Durbin says Lewis has served in the central district for more than 25 years. He's been both an assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the civil division.
"I was honored to recommend his name to President Obama, and am confident that he will bring a strong work ethic and great depth of knowledge to the position of U.S. Attorney," Durbin said.
Lewis has also served as a trial attorney with the Justice Department, a law professor and civil rights lawyer in Mississippi.
His nomination now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the committee approves him, the full Senate will vote on his appointment.
The central district serves 46 Illinois counties. The court hears cases in Peoria, Urbana, Springfield, and Rock Island.