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A Republican Stops the First Native American Federal Judge for Montana From Being Confirmed


BILLINGS, Mont. — On Wednesday, officials said that a Republican lawmaker from Montana stopped a Biden administration candidate for the bench who would have been the state’s first Native American federal district court judge.

As of last month, President Joe Biden put forward Danna Jackson, an attorney for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The position needs to be approved by the Senate.

A spokesperson for Sen. Steve Daines said that Jackson was not considered because the government never asked for his permission before nominating her.

In an email, Dumke said, “Senator Daines thinks that confirming federal judges with lifetime tenure is one of the most important decisions he will make and that these people must be trusted not to legislate from the bench.”

A White House spokesman denied Dumke’s claim and said that Jackson had been contacted by Daines’ team last year but declined to meet with them.

“This supposed lack of consultation seems to be little more than an excuse,” said Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates. “It’s shameful that Senator Daines is denying Montana the skills of a principled, fair, and impartial judge like Danna Jackson.”

Bloomberg Law first reported that Daines was against the bill.

An organization called the American Bar Association says that most federal judges are white guys.

The group says that as of the end of last year, only four of the more than 1,400 federal judges were Native American and two others were described as partially Native American. Native Americans make up almost 3% of the U.S. population, but that’s less than 1% of federal courts.

Jackson didn’t answer right away when a voice message was left with the Salish and Kootenai legal department asking for feedback.

She has been a lawyer in the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, where she was the top legal counsel.

Democrats like Jon Tester, Montana’s senior U.S. senator, and people from the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund backed her selection. Tester said Jackson had a lot of skills.

The Senate approved the 200th federal judge during Biden’s term last week. This was about a month earlier than when Trump reached the same point in his term.

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