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Senate confirms Diane Humetewa as a federal judge in Arizona

Diane Humetewa
Diane Humetewa

The Senate voted 96 to 0 on Wednesday to confirm Diane Humetewa as a federal judge in Arizona.

Humetewa is a member of the Hopi Tribe. She has worked for the Department of Justice and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and she served as U.S. Attorney for Arizona during the second half of the Bush administration.

"As the newest member of the federal bench, she is the first Native American woman ever appointed to serve in that position," the National Congress of American Indians said in a statement.

Humetewa's confirmation is "historic," Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said. The Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in Arizona and cases involving the tribe and its members could end up before the new judge.

"All of Indian Country should be proud to have a person of this caliber and experience on the federal bench," Shelly said in a statement. "The Navajo Nation congratulates Diane and her family in her new role in serving the law for the people of Arizona.”

The National Native American Bar Association also praised the vote. In addition to her work in the public sector, Humetewa has experience as a judge for her tribe.

“Ms. Humetewa’s exceptional career, including her former role as U.S. Attorney, will serve her well as the first female Native American ever appointed to the federal judiciary and the only American Indian in the federal judiciary,” NNABA President Mary Smith said in a press release.

Lawmakers from both parties supported Humetewa even though it took eight months for her to win confirmation. She was first nominated by President Barack Obama in September 2013 but didn't see a floor vote so she was resubmitted in January.

“As the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge, I have no doubt that she will hold the court to the highest standards, as she has done throughout her career," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) statement.

"It’s long overdue that Native Americans are better represented on the federal bench, and today’s vote is an important step forward," Heitkamp added.

Humetewa currently serves as a special advisor for Indian affairs to Arizona State University President Michael Crow. She also teaches at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

“I feel privileged to serve in this new capacity and I am certainly grateful for all of the support that President Crow and the ASU community offered me throughout the confirmation process,” Humetewa said in a press release distributed by ASU.

Get the Story:
ASU advisor Diane Humetewa named 1st American Indian woman federal judge (ASU News 5/15)
U.S. Senate confirms 3 judges to Arizona federal bench (The Arizona Republic 5/15)
Humetewa first Native American woman confirmed as federal judge (AP 5/14)
Three Arizona District Court Judges Confirmed (KJZZ 5/14)
Native American woman, 2 others OK’d for US bench (AP 5/14)

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Senate to vote on Diane Humetewa as federal judge in Arizona (5/14)
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Senate committee advances Diane Humetewa as federal judge (2/27)
Diane Humetewa, Hopi, wins praise at confirmation hearing (1/29)
Confirmation hearing for Diane Humetewa as federal judge (1/24)
Obama resubmits nomination of Diane Humetewa as judge (01/06)
Opinion: Big deal in nomination of Diane Humetewa as judge (10/02)
Opinion: Long overdue pick of Native woman as federal judge (09/24)
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