Joe Biden announced a “pioneering” set of federal judicial candidates, 11 choices including three black women.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, a U.S. District Judge, was appointed Tuesday to replace Attorney General Merrick Garland on the influential U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2016, Garland was nominated for the Supreme Court by Barack Obama but was not even heard from Republicans determined to fill the post themselves.
It was an extremely dramatic gamble on the part of then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he set out to transform the federal justice system. With McConnell’s help, Donald Trump was able to do it.
During the election campaign last year, Biden pledged to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court. Jackson, who regularly clashed with the Trump administration, is now in the limelight. Many Liberals are considering retirement for Stephen Breyer, the oldest member of the court, at 82, for whom Jackson once served as a clerk.
When she was sworn in as a district judge in May 2013, Breyer was sworn in.
“She sees things from different points of view,” he said, “and she sees someone else’s point of view and understands it.”
In December, Biden asked senators for a diverse list of possible judicial choices.
“We are particularly focused on appointing individuals whose legal backgrounds have been historically under-represented in the federal judiciary,” he said, “including those who are public defenders, civil rights lawyers and law enforcement officials. legal aid and those who represent Americans in all walks of life. ”
His top picks, which the Washington Post called “the largest and oldest group … by a new administration in decades,” also include the first Muslim appointed to a district court, Zahid Quraishi, a New Jersey judge. .
In a statement to the Post, Biden said, “This groundbreaking list of nominees draws on the best and brightest minds in the American legal profession.
“Each is deeply qualified and ready to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people – and together they represent the great diversity of background, experience and perspective that makes our nation strong.”
On Tuesday, he also named Candace Jackson-Akiwumi for the Chicago Seventh Circuit and Tiffany Cunningham for the Washington Federal Circuit.
Among other nominations, Florence Pan will, if confirmed, be the first Asian American woman in DC District Court, while Lydia Griggsby will be the first black woman in Maryland District Court.
Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, a local Washington DC judge of Indian origin, is appointed to the DC superior court.
Nomination hearings could begin in April. Biden and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have work to do.
McConnell and Trump placed three justices on the Supreme Court, giving it a Conservative 6-3 majority. But the major overhaul of the justice system under the highest jurisdiction could be their most lasting legacy.
Observers have noted, for example, that while punitive voting restrictions enacted in Republican-led states are challenged in court, the judiciary that will hear such cases is heavily made up of conservatives.
McConnell was proud of his cruelty, telling Fox News there was a reason Trump had so many vacancies.
“I’ll tell you why,” he said in December 2019. “I was in charge of what we did during the last two years of the Obama administration.”
Last April, he told an interviewer that his “motto for the year is to leave no vacancies behind.”
Trump’s success has contributed to his strength at the polls. In 2019, South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman told The Guardian: “Not all Conservatives are happy with a lot of the things that Trump has done, but on the judges he is killing them. It is a success at all levels that we have seen in this area. “
Biden must now attempt to begin to restore the balance.