President Biden announced his first slate of judicial nominees on Tuesday, naming picks for 11 appellate court, district court and superior court vacancies — including Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Jackson, who has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2013, is seen as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee someday. Mr. Biden committed during the campaign to nominating a Black woman for the Supreme Court if he gets the opportunity to fill a vacancy.
She would fill the vacancy left by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Former President Obama nominated Mr. Garland to serve on the Supreme Court in March 2016, but the nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans, who said the winner of the 2016 presidential election should make the pick.
The slate of nominees includes two other African American women for circuit court vacancies.
The other nominees are:
• Tiffany Cunningham, a partner at Perkins Coie in Chicago, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
• Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder in D.C., for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
• Judge Deborah Boardman, a United States Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
• Judge Lydia Griggsby, a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
• Julien Neals, county counsel and acting county administrator for Bergen County, New Jersey, for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
• Judge Florence Y. Pan, associate judge on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
• Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, a United States Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
• Regina Rodriguez, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Denver, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
• Margaret Strickland, a partner at McGraw & Strickland in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
• Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, an administrative judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission, for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”
If confirmed, Judge Quraishi would be the first-ever Muslim American federal judge, Judge Pan would be the first Asian American and Pacific Islander woman to serve on the D.C. District Court, and Judge Griggsby would be the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland.
Mr. Biden entered office with 68 judicial vacancies on the federal appellate and district courts — significantly fewer than former President Trump, who reshaped the federal courts with more than 200 successful nominees during his four years in office.
At this point in their first terms, Mr. Obama had announced one judicial pick and Mr. Trump had announced two, which included Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.
Civil rights and liberal advocacy groups swiftly hailed Mr. Biden’s picks.
“This list powerfully affirms that nominees who are racially diverse and whose professional background reflects a broad range of practice are available to serve on the federal bench,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.
The group Demand Justice praised the picks and hinted that another promotion could be in Judge Jackson’s future.
“She and the other public defenders and civil rights lawyers in this group are exactly the kind of judges we need to rebalance our courts,” said Brian Fallon, the group’s executive director.
Mr. Fallon said progressives need to keep up a pressure campaign on senators to make sure the nominees advance in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between the two parties.
Democrats hold effective control of the chamber thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
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