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Virginia Elects First African-American Woman To State Supreme Court

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Cleo Powell became the first African-American woman to serve on the Virginia Court of Appeals in 2008. Now, she's become the first black woman on state’s highest court.

The Democratically-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House each voted unanimously on Friday to elect Powell and fellow appeals court judge Elizabeth McClanahan to the State Supreme court. They'll begin serving their 12-year terms on Aug. 1.

The two seats had been vacant since February, when Justice Lawrence Koontz retired, and Justice Leroy Hassell died of an undisclosed illness. Hassell was the Virginia Supreme Court's first African-American man.

The two empty seats had slowed the workflow of the seven-member court significantly.

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