Carter honored for appointing women, African Americans to the federal bench

Judge Ann Claire Williams. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, left, presents former President Jimmy Carter with an award recognizing his appointment of a large number of minority and female judges to the federal judiciary during his presidency, Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Atlanta. The Just the Beginning Foundation honored Carter with its Trailblazer Legend Award.
Judge Ann Claire Williams. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, left, presents former President Jimmy Carter with an award recognizing his appointment of a large number of minority and female judges to the federal judiciary during his presidency, Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Atlanta. The Just the Beginning Foundation honored Carter with its Trailblazer Legend Award.

Credit: David Goldman

Credit: David Goldman

Former President Jimmy Carter was honored Thursday  for appointing more women and minorities to the federal judiciary than all the previous presidents combined.

Carter received the 2012 Trailblazer Legend award from the Chicago-based Just the Beginning Foundation during a program at the Carter Center. The JTBF, in part, encourages diverse students, as early as middle school,  to consider careers in law.

During his presidency, he appointed 57  judges of color and 41 women to the federal courts.

The 87- year-old Carter said  he didn't feel what he did "required any sort of  political courage because  I think the nation was ready for it." His said the appointees performed so well on the bench that they actually brought credit to him.

Although great progress has  been made, he said. “We’re still at the beginning of bringing true equality of treatment under the law, in economic status and in occupation of high places in the U.S. Senate and Congress to women and people of color. We still have a long way to go.”

Senior Judge Phyllis Kravitch, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, credited Carter with changing the face of the federal judiciary.

Nathaniel R. Jones, a retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, praised Carter for his courage. He said the former president had the "capacity to identify a wrong and  the capacity and courage to correct it."