President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his 11th round of judicial nominees, a diverse group of prospective federal judges that brings his total number of nominees to 73 — one more than President Donald Trump nominated during his first year in office.
The rapid pace of Biden’s nominations illustrates the weight Democrats have placed on countering Trump and Senate Republicans’ historically rapid — and markedly awful — reshaping of the federal bench over the last five years.
Biden’s nominees have been a departure from Trump’s fixation with choosing ultraconservative white guys to fill lifetime judgeships. Among the list are several people who will make history if confirmed, including the first Native American federal judge in California and the first openly LGBTQ federal judge in Wisconsin.
The latest round of nominees followed Monday’s Senate confirmation of Lucy Koh, the first Korean American woman to serve on a federal appeals court.
We can’t be sure exactly how these nominees will rule, but we know their diversity is a necessary counterweight to the revanchist conservatism Trump’s majorly white, mostly male judges were installed to enforce. More than a quarter of active federal judges were Trump appointees, according to a Pew Research Center study in January. Many of those judges have already issued rulings striking down gun safety measures, voting rights, abortion rights and more.
And there’s palpable fear they will become more powerful in decades to come.
Biden administration accomplishments will likely be fought in court because of the way the federal bench is constituted. Diversifying the bench is the only way progressive policies stand any chance of survival, now or in the future.
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