Respect Equality

Biden nominates first Native American federal judge in Washington state history

president biden judicial nominees federal courts laren j king indian native american indigenous muscogee washington state first
Lauren J King.  Foster Garvey

Story at a glance

  • Biden released several new judicial nominees, including a Native American woman to sit on the federal bench of Washington state.
  • Lauren J. King is a member of the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma.
  • Native American judges are scarce in the U.S., with only two active serving Indigenous judges on the federal judiciary.

On Wednesday, President Biden released his third slate of judicial nominees for seats across the country, with his selections marking significant diversity milestones. 

Among the elite group of nominees, Biden tapped Lauren J. King as a judge to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington state. King, a Native American woman and member of the Muscogee Nation, would be the first Indigenous person to sit as a federal judge in Washington.

King is currently an attorney at the Foster Garvey law firm based in Seattle. 

Currently, of the 890 federal judgeships, only two are occupied by Native Americans. King would be the third active Native American federal district court judge and the fifth in the history of the federal judiciary. 

To match national demographics, 14 Native American judges should sit on federal district court benches. 

Advocacy organizations have praised Biden’s nomination of King. The National Congress of American Indians released a statement supporting King for the judicial seat.

“NCAI strongly supports the nomination of Lauren J. King, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation, as the first ever Native American judge to serve on a federal bench in Washington state,” said President Fawn Sharp of the National Congress of American Indians. “Washington state is home to 29 federally recognized Indian tribes, making it critical that its federal judges better reflect the communities they serve and understand the unique histories of Native peoples and the legal principles that protect and preserve our standing under federal law.”

King’s nomination would likely improve representation of Native American tribes in influential federal court decisions.