Biden’s Reshaping and Diversifying Our Courts

Biden’s nominations and the Senate’s confirmations bring people of color, untraditional backgrounds to the fore

With an eye toward diversifying an overwhelmingly white and male judiciary, President Biden and Senate Democrats have begun reshaping the judiciary by installing leaders that bring deep experience and new voices to our courts — and doing it at a historic pace. 

Today, President Biden announced his fourth slate of judicial nominations, including a voting rights leader who would be the only Latina on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a former public defender and current civil rights plaintiff’s attorney who would be the second African American woman judge actively serving on the District Court for the District of Columbia, and a federal prosecutor who would be the first judge of South Asian descent to serve on the District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Biden’s nominations are broadly diverse, in race, gender and experience.

Washington Post“President Biden and the Democrat-led Senate have moved quickly to boost minority and female representation on the federal courts following Donald Trump’s four-year push to remake the judiciary, in which he nominated a large share of White, male justices. Biden’s early judicial slate represents a departure from his recent predecessors; his initial picks are more diverse, and Biden rolled out more nominations earlier in his presidency than others. Fifteen of his 19 nominees so far are women, including 11 women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

New York Times: “The Biden administration is set to on Tuesday announce a fourth round of judicial nominations, including a New York appeals court nominee with an expertise in voting rights — an issue likely to occupy the courts in coming months. The five nominations to the federal courts, part of a White House effort to set a fast pace on judicial confirmations, comes after the Senate on Monday confirmed President Biden’s first circuit court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The new nominees, who also include two candidates for local courts in the District of Columbia, again reflect the push by the White House for judicial picks with diverse personal and professional backgrounds.”

Biden’s nominees, alongside currently serving judges, would constitute a historically high number of Black women serving on federal appeals courts.

USA Today“With the Senate ramping up approval of his judicial nominees, President Joe Biden is poised to double the number of African American women serving on the nation’s federal appeals courts during his first few months in office…If those three are confirmed and none of the current judges retire, it would represent the largest number of Black women serving on appeals courts in history.”

President Biden has also nominated, and the Senate has confirmed, the first Muslim judge on the federal bench.

New York Times“Zahid N. Quraishi, a federal magistrate judge and the son of Pakistani immigrants, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal judgeship in New Jersey on Thursday, becoming the first Muslim Federal District Court judge in the nation’s history.”