Meteoric rise for history-making Delaware judge, Tamika Montgomery-Reeves confirmed to join Third Circuit

Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves will join the Third Circuit Court of Appeals next year after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week. (state of Delaware photo)

Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves will join the Third Circuit Court of Appeals next year after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week. (state of Delaware photo)

Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves was the first Black judge to serve on Delaware’s Court of Chancery in 2015 and on the state Supreme Court in 2020. Now, the U.S. Senate has confirmed her as the newest member of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senators voted 53-35 to confirm her nomination.

“The Delaware Supreme Court’s loss will be our nation’s gain,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware before that vote this week. “She’ll bring a spirit of collegiality and consensus to the Third Circuit, just as she has in the courts that she served on in Delaware. She’s not an ideologue. She’s an ideal judge.”

Before she joined the Chancery Court as vice chancellor in 2015, Montgomery-Reeves was a partner in a Wilmington law firm focused on corporate governance and stockholder class action litigation. She also clerked for Chancery Court Chancellor William Chandler.

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“It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege to serve the people of Delaware for the past seven years,” Montgomery-Reeves wrote this week in her resignation letter to Gov. John Carney.

“I also am incredibly fortunate to have spent this time working with dedicated judicial officers and staff who are committed to the rule of law and to treating all who come before them with dignity and respect. I have learned so much from them, and their service to Delaware has inspired me.”

During her brief time on the state’s highest court, Montgomery-Reeves joined Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. in an initiative to improve diversity among both judges and the lawyers who argue cases before them.

“Take a look at the makeup of the citizens in our state… that’s what I think our bench should look like,” Montgomery-Reeves told WHYY News in May 2021. “It’s my hope, as the chief justice said, that I won’t be in rooms anymore where I’m the only person of color or one of very few, where I can count on one hand or two the number of attorneys of color who are practicing.”

Seitz pointed to that effort in a written statement following her confirmation.

“While we are saddened to lose a valued colleague on the Delaware Supreme Court, we are happy for her and for the Federal Judiciary,” he said. “The Third Circuit is gaining a judge of uncommon intellect and wisdom. I am particularly thankful for her work on the Delaware Judiciary’s strategic plan to improve the diversity of the Delaware Bench and Bar.”

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Her resignation from the Delaware high court will happen when President Joe Biden signs her commission to the U.S. Third Circuit. An exact date hasn’t been set, but it’s expected to happen in February.

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