Who Are Biden’s First Slate of Judicial Nominees?
|President Biden has dozens of vacancies to fill on the courts. Susan Walsh/AP|
President Joe Biden picked his first federal judicial nominees on Tuesday, including a former federal public defender, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to be on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago, according to Chicago Suntimes.
White House’s statement:
"These nominees consist of attorneys who have excelled in the legal field in a wide range of positions, including as renowned jurists, public defenders, prosecutors, in the private sector, in the military, and as public servants at all levels of government," the statement said.
The list is a diverse one: It includes three African American women tapped for Circuit Court vacancies and candidates who would be the first Muslim- American federal judge in U.S. history, the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C., and the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.
In all, nine of the nominees are women, and nine are people of color. Most have diverse legal experience as well, as defense and prosecution lawyers, and in both criminal and civil practice.
Biden’s first wave of judicial nominees comes as Democrats want him to pick up the pace on vacancies to mitigate one of Trump’s major legacies — his relatively high numbers of confirmed federal district and appeals judges named in his single term, plus three members of the Supreme Court.
The Seventh Circuit at present has no Black judges. If confirmed, Jackson-Akiwumi would be the second judge of color on the Seventh; the first was Judge Ann Claire Williams, who retired in 2018.
Biden's list is diverse, which checks a box for progressives who have been pushing the president to diversify the federal courts. And the most high-profile appointment in the group ‒ Ketanji Brown Jackson ‒ was on progressive judicial group Demand Justice's 2019 list of suggested Supreme Court appointments for Democratic presidential candidates.
"Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a former public defender, an unflinching champion for justice, and Joe Biden's nominee to the second highest court in the United States," Demand Justice said in a tweet Tuesday morning. The post also included an ad with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., praising Jackson's "intellect" and recommending her for her district court seat.
10 other nominees to judicial seats:
1. Tiffany Cunningham, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit;
2. Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit;
|Ex-federal public defender Candace Jackson-Akiwumi was nominated for Chicago federal appeals court seat.|
3. Judge Deborah Boardman, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland;
4. Judge Lydia Griggsby, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland;
5. Julien Neals, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey;
6. Judge Florence Y. Pan, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia;
7. Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey;
8. Regina Rodriguez, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado;
9. Margaret Strickland, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico;
10. Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
There are already 84 District Court vacancies with 62 of the seats now empty, plus 22 more judges having announced that they will leave their posts or take "senior status" within weeks or months.
In addition, there are 12 appeals court vacancies to fill. Under the current Senate rules, these are harder to get through because the minority party, now Republican, is permitted to debate appellate court nominees for up to 30 hours, while District Court nominees have a two-hour debate limit under the rules.
In short, even though the filibuster for judicial nominees was abolished in 2013, it is still very time-consuming to confirm any appeals court nominee if there is concerted opposition from the opposition party.
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