Written by Daniel Maloney
President Joe Biden announced his nominations for Federal Judges on Tuesday March 30. With a wide range of diversity in both background and professional experience, this is one of the most diverse pool of nominations in history, setting a new standard for what may be to come in the Biden Administration. This also comes at a much faster pace to nominate new Federal Judges at the start of a presidency, and with aides to Biden also saying more is to come, the Administration will likely take advantage of the Democrat controlled senate, given that in just two years it may change.
Of the pool of nominees, 10 are to serve on the Federal Circuit and District Court and one on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. They are all very diverse, a massive change from the Trump Administration prior. Of these, there are three Afircan American women, and one of these candidates who, if confirmed would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history, and another would the first Asian women to serve District Court for the District of D.C. These are all a great change from a sea of mostly white, male, corporate law partners and prosecutors who have been put into the federal courts by presidents for decades, by both parties. People such as public defenders, jurists, family court judges, public servants at all levels of government have been nominated. While it is highly unlikely the nominees will not be approved, given the current Democratic majority in the Senate, they have not been yet as of publication. The nominees have also been announced far faster than with recent presidencies. By the end of March of his first year, Trump had only named only one circuit court judge and no district court judges. Similarly, Obama had named one circuit court judge and three district court judges. Aides are also showing the intent to announce more in what one called a “steady drumbeat” in the following months, meaning that this change in the Federal Courts likely will not stop.
These nominations did not come without controversy, even from Biden’s own party. One
of the largest concerns was a lack of Hispanic and Latino nominees, brought up by multiple prominent legal and civil rights groups. Thomas A. Saenz, President of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said “The fact that the administration chose to roll out this first group without more Latinos is indicative of the low priority of Latinos to them.” Given the pool of nominees of incredibly diverse racial backgrounds, one would expect the pool to also have a good portion of Latino and Hispanic people, given that they make up about 18 percent of the US population, and only 6 percent of Federal Judges. Many of these advocacy groups have said that there is more than just diversity in appointing more Histpanic and Latino judges, but that it is also about visibility and its ability to send a ripple effect throughout the nation, helping more sectors with underrepresentation become diverse. “When you are a group that doesn’t see yourself in the halls of power, it can make a difference.” Said general counsel of the LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Juan Cartagena.
Even with controversy, Biden’s nominees are a massive change from the years past, and may be a sign of more progressive change in the future.