Superior Court Associate Justice O. Rogeriee Thompson came a step closer to making history as the first African-American woman to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit after sailing through her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week, according to the Providence Journal.
“I hope that smooth sailing … continues on the floor,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who chaired the 25-minute hearing. “So far, so good,” Whitehouse later added, saying it would be difficult for Republicans to question her nomination before the full Senate, since they had failed to appear at the hearing.
…“I am amazed as to the historic significance of this day,” said Clifford Monteiro, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP. It was Monteiro’s first Senate Judiciary hearing. “To see someone who came from such humble beginnings, and establish such precedent. I think she’s an inspiration to all women, to all minorities and all Americans.”
Sen. Jack Reed introduced Thompson to the committee, with only Whitehouse and one other member in attendance. Reed, with Whitehouse, recommended Thompson to replace Senior Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya for what is traditionally known as the “Rhode Island seat” on the appeals court.
Reed, who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, praised Thompson’s temperament, integrity and impartiality. She was chosen, he said, from among 30 applicants, in part, after an examination of what motivated the candidates’ choices in life. “We came to the conclusion Judge Thompson was uniquely qualified to serve on the First Circuit,” Reed said.
Whitehouse noted that she was the first African-American woman appointed to Rhode Island’s District Court and Superior Court. “It is fitting that she is the one to make another piece of long-overdue history,” he said. “She is a worthy nominee for this historic occasion.”
He questioned Thompson about her experience with constitutional and federal law. She responded that often, as a state court judge, she had to study federal court precedent and “make a judgment how it should be applied.” Federal and state laws frequently overlap, she said.
I agree with another attorney blogger – Brassband at RIFuture.org – that Judge Thompson’s two decades of experience as a state trial court judge will greatly benefit the First Circuit. I join him in hoping that the Senate goes about its business quickly and confirms Judge Thompson’s nomination.