President Joe Biden has nominated Oregon Supreme Court Justice
Adrienne C. Nelson to serve as a federal judge.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Nelson, 55, would be the
first Black woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for Oregon.
Gov. Kate Brown appointed
Nelson to be an associate justice on Oregon’s high court in 2018,
making her the first Black judge to serve on that court — or any court of
appeal in the state.
Before that, Nelson was a trial court judge for nearly 12
years on the Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Nelson was one of three other federal judicial nominees
announced Thursday, July 14.
The nominations continue to fulfill Biden’s “promise to
ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our
greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional
backgrounds,” read a
statement from the White House.
All of the nominees “are extraordinarily qualified,
experienced and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution,” White
House officials said.
Nelson’s interest in law began in Arkansas, where she grew
She was prohibited from serving as valedictorian at her high
school because of her race, according to Brown’s office. The school initially
decided to give the honor to a white student with a lower GPA.
Nelson stayed in the state to earn her undergraduate degree
at the University of Arkansas. She earned her law degree at the University of
She launched her legal career as a public defender at
Multnomah Defenders Inc. in 1996. Nelson then joined the private firm Bennett,
Hartman, Morris and Kaplan LLP, where she practiced from 1999 to 2004.
She worked as a senior attorney and coordinator of Student
Legal and Mediation Services at Portland State University until 2006 when
former Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed her to the Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Nelson was appointed to finish the term of former Oregon
Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau in 2018. She won the election for a full
six-year term later that year.
She has received the Multnomah Bar Association’s Award of
Merit and the Oregon State Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Award.
Last August, Nelson cut the
ceremonial ribbon and officially opened
Adrienne C. Nelson High School in Happy Valley.
“Justice Nelson is extremely well-qualified for this
federal judgeship, combining her experience on Oregon’s highest court and
previous trial judge tenure in Multnomah County with service as a public
defender and mediator. We eagerly look forward to helping this outstanding
nominee advance through the Senate confirmation process,” read the
Biden’s nominations now will go before the Senate Judiciary
Committee. It’s the 23rd round of nominees to the federal judiciary, bringing
the president’s total nominees to 123.
Nelson would fill the seat of Michael W. Mosman, who became
a senior judge in December.