President Barack Obama nominated Justice Wilhelmina Marie Wright to serve on the U.S. District Court for Minnesota Wednesday.
Wright has served for 15 years on all levels of the Minnesota courts — as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court since her 2012 appointment by Gov. Mark Dayton, a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals from 2002 to 2012, and a trial judge on the Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul from 2000 to 2002. Wright is a Harvard Law School and Yale University graduate.
“She has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction,” Obama said in a White House release.
She was nominated after U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken recommended her nomination for federal district court judge in February. She would fill the seat of Chief Judge Michael J. Davis, who will step down from active service on Aug. 1.
“The job of a federal judge is an exceptionally important position that requires someone with a diverse record of experience and an unwavering commitment to the fair and just application of the law,” Franken said about Wright. “With decades of legal experience and a strong background as a public servant on both the state and federal levels, Justice Wright is well-qualified to serve Minnesota on the U.S. District Court.”
Davis is the only black federal judge in Minnesota history. Wright is the first African American woman to serve on the State Supreme Court, and would be the second black federal judge.
“Justice Wright has it all: a brilliant legal mind, an enormous breadth of experience, and a commitment to justice and public service,” Klobuchar said. “I was proud to recommend her for this position and know she will serve Minnesota with the same distinction that has marked her entire career.”
Gov. Mark Dayton said he is proud to have appointed Wright to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and said he is urging the Senate to promptly confirm her.
"I continue to be greatly impressed with her character, her longstanding commitment to public service, and her exceptional judgment," Dayton said in a statement.
Wright will help carry the federal bench’s diversity and will probably be confirmed sometime this year, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who has studied the judicial selection process.
“You never know what can happen, but I would doubt that she’s going to be controversial,” he said.