Congressman Cohen Questions Expert Witness on the Value of Diversity on the Federal Judiciary

March 25, 2021
Press Release
Welcomes Circuit Judge Bernice Donald of Memphis as a witness

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, today introduced Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice B. Donald of Memphis and questioned her at a hearing of the Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet on “The Importance of a Diverse Federal Judiciary.”

In his introduction of Judge Donald, Congressman Cohen referred to her as “one of the most distinguished jurists in the United States of America.” See that introduction here.

In his questions, Congressman Cohen noted that President Trump failed to appoint a single Black appeals court-level federal judge, reversing a trend toward greater diversity pursued by his predecessors. Congressman Cohen also noted that Judge Donald’s background as a legal services lawyer and public defender was unusual and asked if that background was valuable in a judge. Judge Donald said that background was “enormously important” and noted that her work as a defense lawyer in both legal services and as a public defender helped her to represent “poor people who otherwise had no voice.”

See the entire exchange here.

Witnesses at today’s hearing were:

  • The Honorable Carlton W. Reeves, District Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi;
  • The Honorable Frank J. Bailey, Bankruptcy Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Massachusetts;
  • The Honorable James C. Ho, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit;
  • The Honorable Edward M. Chen, District Judge, United States District Court, Northern District of California;
  • The Honorable Bernice B. Donald, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit;
  • Maya Sen, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School;
  • Peter N. Kirsanow, Partner, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP and Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights;
  • Stacy Hawkins, Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School.