Nice Time: Joe Biden Is Good At Picking Judges!

Joe Biden is nominating more judges. And they are very good judges!

Last week, the White House announced Joe Biden's fourth slate of nominees for the federal bench. I am happy to report that he is still doing a great job!

We have always had a representation problem in our courts — and I'm not just talking about the disproportionate number of old white men. At all levels of our court system, the vast majority of judges have come from the same two places: prosecutor's offices and corporate defense firms. Even Barack Obama, who did a really good job putting more women and racial and ethnic minorities on the bench, stuck mostly to people who put people in jail or defended grotesque capitalism for a living. (After law school, Obama was also a corporate defense lawyer.)

The disaster that was the Trump regime put this problem on steroids. (Not the kind that your doctor might prescribe you, but the kind that will shrink your balls right off.) Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell did nearly unsurmountable damage to our federal judiciary at every level. Not only did the reality TV president put fully one-third of the Supreme Court on the bench, he also chose 30 percent of our sitting federal circuit court (appellate) judges and 174 district court (trial) judges.
During the campaign, Biden promised to diversify the federal bench, both in terms of demographics and diversity of legal experience. And, so far, he has lived up to those promises!
Since taking office almost exactly five months ago, Biden has nominated 24 judges. That's a great rate; by this time in his horrific presidency, Trump, who got his judges confirmed at record numbers, had nominated 15. Nineteen of the 24 Biden nominees are women. Most of those women are women of color. A total of zero nominees thus far are white men.

The most exciting name in this batch of judges is Myrna Pérez, nominated to the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit has jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, covering a population of more than 23 million people. And Pérez will be a great addition to one of the country's most important appellate courts! She has been a civil rights lawyer for most of her career, and right now she leads the Brennan Center's Voting Rights & Elections Program at NYU School of Law. The Brennan Center does amazing work protecting the right to vote, and with all of the current attacks on voting rights, experts like Myrna Pérez are greatly needed on the federal bench. Once confirmed, she will be the only Latina on the Second Circuit.

The other new Biden nominees are:

  • Jia Cobb, a civil rights attorney and former public defender, to the District of DC;
  • Sarah Merriam, a former public defender, to the District of Connecticut;
  • Omar Williams, another former public defender, to the District of Connecticut;
  • Tovah Calderon, a civil rights lawyer for the DOJ, to the DC Court of Appeals;
  • Sarala Vidya Nagala, a federal prosecutor, to the District of Connecticut; and
  • Kenia Seoane Lopez, a current magistrate judge who has worked in the domestic violence division of DC courts, to the Superior Court of DC.

So far, confirming Biden's judicial picks has been one thing all 50 Democrats (and "Democrats") in the Senate are able to agree on. The Senate started confirming the first slate of Biden judges earlier this month. Four judges have been added to district courts in New Jersey, Colorado, and Maryland, and likely future SCOTUS justice Ketanji Brown Jackson officially took her seat on the DC Circuit last week.

We need to put as many judges on the federal bench as humanly possible — and we need to do it as fast as we can. Senate Dems and the Biden administration need to aim for having zero judicial vacancies before the 2022 elections. The Senate map in 2022 is better than it has been the last couple of cycles, but the Senate is still an anti-democratic body (that should be abolished). Mitch McConnell is already publicly promising to do everything he can to obstruct progress if the fascists Republicans take back the Senate.

But so far, so good! And we can't wait to see who Biden nominates next.

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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