Tiffany P. Cunningham Confirmed as First Black Judge to Federal Circuit 

Cunningham's candidacy was advanced by the Senate committee in June, where she drew six "no" votes from Republicans 


Tiffany P. Cunningham Tiffany P. Cunningham has made history as the first Black Federal Circuit Judge. (Photo courtesy of Perkins Coie LLP)
By: ShaCamree Gowdy

Tiffany P. Cunningham has been confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 

The confirmation makes Cunningham the first Black judge in history to hold the role of the nation’s top patent court, as reported by Bloomberg Law. With her arrival, the court’s membership is now evenly split 6-to-6 between men and women. 

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Cunningham, a well-known patent litigator, has long dreamed of holding the Federal Circuit seat. 

“I recall when I was fortunate enough to clerk for the court in 2001 and 2002, one of the first days walking around and seeing the pictures of the judges on the walls,” she shared during a May hearing before the judiciary committee, per Reuters’ Blake Brittain. “And I saw a court that had fine, fine jurists, but was very homogeneous. At that point in time, I kind of put it in my mental ‘vision board’ that I hope that one day I could be a judge at that court.” 

Cunningham’s nomination was announced by President Joe Biden on March 30. She’s been a partner at Perkins Coie in Chicago since 2014 and has represented a number of other companies throughout her career, including Microsoft and General Motors, per Reuters. 

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She will take over for US Circuit Judge Evan Wallach, who was promoted to senior status on May 31.