By Tanveer Kaur
President Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate eleven people to serve on federal courts. Nine of his nominations are women, three are Black women and one would become the country’s first Muslim federal judge.
Biden has nominated a record-breaking number of judges for federal courts. Many believe this is because the Democrats assume they have only two years as the Senate majority. Many also believe they are likely to lose the Senate next year, meaning they would need judicial nominees Republicans would be willing to vote for.
Federal judicial nominees have typically come from the U.S. attorney’s office, a local prosecutor or a partner in a law firm. President Donald Trump nominated 274 people to federal judgeships—many of them conservative, white males and some of them with comparatively little legal experience. The Biden administration has concluded they need to put diverse judges on federal courts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, located in Chicago, has an entirely white lineup of judges. Biden picked Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, who is a Black woman and a former federal public defender.
The most high-profile name on the White House’s list was Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia—a potential Supreme Court pick—whom Biden nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Biden has nominated seven candidates for district court vacancies, including two nominees for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland: Judge Deborah Boardman, a U.S. magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and Judge Lydia Griggsby, a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Biden similarly nominated two candidates for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey: Julien Neals, County Counsel, and Acting County Administrator for Bergen County, and Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Other district court nominees include Judge Florence Y. Pan, an associate judge on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Regina Rodriguez, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado; and Margaret Strickland, a name partner at McGraw & Strickland LLC, for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Finally, Biden also nominated Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, an administrative judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission, for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
The list of nominees offers a glimpse of the Biden administration’s plans to shape the federal judiciary after promising during the 2020 campaign to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court if given the chance. Many believe the appointments will also provide a test for Senate Democrats who must lead the contentious judicial confirmation process in a chamber divided 50-50 with little room for political error.