On September 6, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald was confirmed to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Judge Donald was confirmed to the Court by a vote of 96 to 2, making her the first African-American woman to serve on the 6th Circuit. Prior to her confirmation, Judge Donald served on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee for fifteen years.
In a floor speech prior to the vote, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) praised Judge Donald for her judicial achievements and community involvement. Citing her three-year term as Secretary of the American Bar Association, previous service on its Committee on Governance and on its Board of Governors, he said: “She has flourished in her career, not just on the court but in her profession.” Senator Alexander explained that Judge Donald has also demonstrated a firm commitment to her community: “She gives a good deal of her time to community organizations: the Memphis Literacy Council, the University of Memphis alumni board, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Calvary Street Ministry, the YWCA, and others.”
Throughout her judicial career, Judge Donald has broken through racial barriers. She was not only the first African-American woman to serve as a District Court judge in Tennessee, but became the first female African-American judge in the history of Tennessee when she was appointed to Tennessee’s General Sessions Criminal Court in 1982.
The Center for Women in Law congratulates Judge Donald on this achievement.