Biden set to surpass Trump in freshman judicial appointments

Among the candidates Biden has announced plans to appoint include Jessica GL Clarke, head of the New York Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights since 2019, for the Southern District of New York. He will also appoint Sherilyn Peace Garnett, former prosecutor and current California Superior Court judge, for the Central District of California.

“These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the country’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country, both in terms of personal and professional experiences.” a White House official said in a statement.

Biden’s efforts have been closely coordinated with Senate Democrats and resulted in 28 confirmations, with at least two other candidates expected to be confirmed before the end of the year. That number also exceeds Trump’s first year in office, which served as an unofficial benchmark of sorts for an administration keen to focus on the courts.

Trump’s success marked a fundamental achievement for then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, and raised the question among Democrats, who saw the balance in the courts of the Court Supreme down reshaped before Trump’s reelection defeat in 2020.

At this point, Biden has not faced an opening from the Supreme Court, although Democrats have been watching his selections closely as potential steps towards whom he would choose if at all.

Biden’s freshman nominees led to the confirmation of nine circuit court judges, including Lucy Koh, which was confirmed this week by the Senate for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The confirmations underscore the effort to close critical openings in appellate courts, which are seen as extremely important in the effort to shape the country’s second highest courts.

Confirmation from the 11th Circuit Court – for Jennifer Sung, also for the 9th Circuit – is expected to clear the Senate on Wednesday, as is confirmation from Samantha D. Elliott as U.S. District Court judge for the district of New Hampshire.

But in a Democratic-controlled 50-50 Senate, time is running out for the White House with the midterm elections looming in less than a year.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has made it clear that processing and confirming judicial candidates is a priority in the Senate. Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, echoed that emphasis in his committee.

Beyond the numbers themselves, Biden’s latest set of nominees for the year highlights what has become something of a model for his selections in an effort to diversify the ranks of the federal judiciary.

The president’s selections included 53 women, representing 73% of all presidential candidates, as well as 20 African Americans, 15 Hispanics and 13 Asian-Pacific Islanders.

They also include 21 public defenders, 16 civil rights lawyers and five labor lawyers, as the administration has sought to raise candidates with more diverse professional backgrounds.

The other choices of the district court are:

  • Hector Gonzalez, Partner at Dechert LLP, for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Kenly Kiya Kato, US Magistrate Judge for the Central District of California, for the US District Court for the Central District of California.
  • Nina Morrison, Senior Legal Advisor, Project Innocence, US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
  • William S. Pocan, Associate Chief Justice of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
  • Jennifer L. Rochon, General Counsel for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Fred W. Slaughter, California Superior Court Judge, United States District Court for the Central District of California.
  • Sunshine Suzanne Sykes, California Superior Court Judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

This story has been updated with additional reports.

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