Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Joe Biden and Federal Courts.
President Joe Biden announced his first group of judicial nominees on Tuesday, elevating U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the appeals court in Washington to succeed Merrick Garland as part of the largest and earliest batch of court picks by a new administration in decades.
Biden had pledged to name the first Black woman to the high court, and his picks signal an early departure from the Trump administration, which successfully reshaped the federal courts with nominees who were overwhelmingly White and male. The nominees come from diverse personal and professional backgrounds, including former public defenders, former prosecutors, sitting judges and attorneys at large law firms, according to the White House list. The average age of Biden’s picks is 48, potentially allowing the judges to serve for decades if confirmed.
In addition to Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Biden’s initial list includes Zahid N. Quraishi, a magistrate judge in New Jersey and former military prosecutor, who would be the nation’s first Muslim American on a District Court bench; Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a former longtime federal public defender and current litigator in Washington, for the Chicago based 7th Circuit; and Tiffany Cunningham, an intellectual property lawyer in Chicago, for a spot on the Federal Circuit in Washington, where she once was a law clerk. Both Jackson-Akiwumi and Cunningham would be the only Black judges on their respective courts, and Cunningham the first on the Federal Circuit. The president’s list also includes four Asian American nominees.
Top White House officials have said that judicial nominations are a priority. They are attempting to fill vacancies more quickly in part responding to criticism that former President Barack Obama acted slowly and use them as a party rallying cry in a way that Republicans have done for decades. Obama had made only one judicial nomination.
It was reported by The Washington Post last month that the Biden administration is also following a Trump practice to speed up the process, forgoing the American Bar Association review of candidates in advance of formal nominations. Biden still has nine other vacancies to fill on the circuit courts and more than 80 current and future openings at the District Court level. The Senate Judiciary Committee could hold hearings on the nominations by late April.
Biden’s first group includes two nominees for the District Court in Maryland, Magistrate Judge Deborah Boardman and Judge Lydia Griggsby, who serves on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Griggsby, a former Senate staffer, would be the first woman of color to serve on Maryland’s District Court.
The president plans to renominate D.C. Superior Court Judge Florence Y. Pan for the opening created by Jackson’s elevation. Pan, who was previously picked in 2016, would become one of the first Asian American women to serve on the court. Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, an administrative law judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission, is Biden’s pick for D.C. Superior Court.
For other District Court openings, Biden selected Julien Neals, a county counsel and acting Bergen County administrator, to serve in New Jersey; Regina Rodriguez, a former federal prosecutor, to serve in Colorado; and in New Mexico, Margaret Strickland, a former president of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee chairman, said in a statement that he would move “expeditiously” on the nominations.
“These highly qualified and diverse nominees are clearly worthy to be considered for these important appointments,” Durbin said.