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Senate Confirms 38-Year-Old Civil Rights Attorney As Federal Judge


The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Tiffany Cartwright to a U.S. district court, making the 38-year-old civil rights attorney one of the youngest federal judges in the country.

Cartwright was confirmed, 50-47, to a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Every Democrat present voted for her, along with two Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).

Sens. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) did not vote.

Cartwright was President Joe Biden’s youngest judicial nominee when he first appointed her in January 2022. But two of his other judicial picks who have since been nominated and confirmed are younger: U.S. appeals court judge Bradley Garcia, who is 37, and U.S. district judge Jamar Walker, who is 36.

Of the hundreds of other federal judges across the country, only one is younger than Biden’s judges: Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Florida district judge appointed by former President Donald Trump. She is 35 or 36. (She was born in 1987, but her specific birthdate is nowhere to be found.)

Age matters a lot considering these are lifetime appointments. Cartwright will now be handing down decisions in federal court cases for decades and is almost certainly a candidate for future elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“As a trial lawyer in Seattle, Ms. Cartwright has established herself as a pre-eminent civil rights attorney, dedicated to ensuring our laws are faithfully executed on behalf of the people they are meant to defend,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who recommended Cartwright to the White House for a judgeship, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

“Importantly, she is someone who will apply the law fairly and impartially,” said Murray. “She will make an excellent addition to the bench in Washington state.”

Tiffany Cartwright, a 38-year-old civil rights litigator, is now one of the youngest federal judges in the country.


Cartwright’s confirmation is part of a broader effort by Biden to bring badly needed diversity onto the federal courts, both in terms of demographics like race and gender but also in terms of professional backgrounds. Cartwright fits the mold: She’s been a civil rights litigator for the Seattle-based MacDonald Hoague & Bayless since 2014, focused primarily on cases involving police misconduct, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Her confirmation is another win for progressive judicial advocacy groups, who have been celebrating the Senate’s recent confirmation of half a dozen relatively young civil rights attorneys to lifetime federal judgeships.

“The Senate is continuing to confirm many of President Biden’s best judicial nominees,” said Chris Kang, chief counsel for Demand Justice. “As a civil rights lawyer, Tiffany Cartwright brings a perspective that is badly needed on the bench, and her combination of youth and experience will allow her to bring it for decades to come.”

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