Montana senator backs appointment of state’s first Native American federal judge. Daily Montanan

WASHINGTON – U.S. Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana is blocking the nomination of a lawyer who, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first Native American to serve as a federal judge in the state.

Daines objected to the White House nomination Danna Jackson, a tribal attorney for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes in Pablo, Montana, because the Biden administration did not consult him prior to her appointment, Rachel Dumke, a spokesperson for Daines, said in an email to States Newsroom .

Daines has not returned his “blue slip” on Jackson’s nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The slip is given to senators from the same state as a federal judicial nominee so they can express their opinions on the nomination.

It is a long-standing tradition in the Senate for both senators to agree on a judicial nominee before moving forward with the confirmation process.

Daines’ objection to Jackson’s appointment was first reported by Bloomberg Law.

“Senator Daines believes that confirming federal judges to life terms is one of the most important decisions he will make and that these individuals should be trusted not to make laws and protect Montana’s way of life,” said Dumke.

However, the White House has pushed back on Daines’ objections.

Daines’ team interviewed Jackson six months ago, but Daines declined to meet with her, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in an email to States Newsroom.

“This alleged lack of consultation appears to be little more than a pretext, and it is shameful that Senator Daines is depriving Montana of the talents of a principled, fair and impartial jurist like Danna Jackson, who would make history as Montana’s first Native American federal judge. ” said Bates.

Nominated in April

The White House announced her nomination on April 24. Jackson did not appear at the Senate Judiciary Nomination Committee hearings on May 22.

A committee spokesman referred to the White House office and Daines about Jackson’s “consultation process, because that is between them.”

Jackson did not respond Thursday to a voicemail message left with the Salish and legal office Kootenai Tribes. Judicial nominees typically do not talk to the media.

After her nomination, Jackson received the support of Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

“As a born and raised Montanan, her extensive experience at every level of Montana’s legal system makes her well qualified to serve our state and I look forward to getting her nomination across the finish line with bipartisan support in the Senate,” Tester said in a statement at the end of April.

Legal experience

Jackson previously worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior as a senior advisor to the director of the Bureau of Land Management.

She also served as chief legal counsel at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in Helena, Montana, and as an assistant U.S. attorney and tribal liaison at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana.

According to her White House biography, Jackson also worked as counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP from 2005 to 2010, after serving as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate from 2002 to 2005 and as a staff attorney at the National Indian Gaming Commission from 2000 to 2002.

She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Montana.

The Biden administration has worked to strengthen a diverse judiciarywith 201 federal judges appointed since last week.

There are four federal judges who are Native American and two who identify partially as Native American, according to the American Bar Association. According to the ABA, these judges represent four-tenths of 1% of federal judges.

“But there is still more work to be done, and President Biden remains steadfast in his commitment to nominate and appoint individuals who will excel in their professional careers, who reflect the communities they serve, and who will enforce the law impartially and without applying favoritism.” the White House said in a statement following the milestone 200th federal judge confirmation.

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