What they’re saying about President Biden’s historic judicial nominees

President Biden on Tuesday announced his intent to nominate highly-qualified candidates to federal courts that reflect his deeply-held conviction that the federal bench should reflect the full diversity of the American people – both in background and in professional experience.

The size and speed of this group represents an unprecedentedly fast start for any President in U.S. history on judicial nominations and is reflective of President Biden’s commitment to strengthening the federal judiciary.

Today’s announcement represents a paradigm shift in the types of people who can see themselves on the federal bench – while still maintaining the President’s absolute highest standards for the qualifications, integrity, and fairness of each individual being considered. Among the 11 nominees today are four former public defenders, four members of the AAPI community, as well as three African American women chosen for Circuit Court vacancies and a nominee who, if confirmed, would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.

Here’s what they are saying about President Biden’s nominees:

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker: “I’m grateful that @POTUS has nominated Julien Neals and Zahid Quraishi for U.S. District Court Judges for New Jersey. They are both smart, experienced and thoughtful attorneys who will bring a commitment to fairness and impartiality to the federal bench.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen: “The White House announcement of a strong slate of qualified judicial nominees—including two terrific candidates from MD—is a welcome change after the last four years. Good to see judicial nominees who are committed to delivering equal justice under the law.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “I am pleased to see the White House nominate judges to help restore the federal bench after 4 years of special-interest court-packing. We must confirm this slate of qualified candidates, & lay bare the court-capture operation that special interests ran against our judiciary.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
Alliance for Justice: “In addition to the female, Black, and AAPI representation in Biden’s first slate of judicial nominees, it’s also incredible to see both former public defenders and civil rights lawyers among his prospective judges. They will serve our courts well.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA): “SABA North America congratulates these 11 judicial nominees, who are highly qualified attorneys representing a range of diverse backgrounds. Particularly, we are proud to see Judges Rupa Ranga Puttagunta and Zahid Quaraishi on the list.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
People for the American Way: “Only 8 Black women have ever served as federal appellate judges. Today, President Biden announced a historic slate of judicial nominees, including the nomination of 3 Black women for our circuit courts. We love to see it. #courtsmatter #WomensHistoryMonth” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
A.B. Cruz III, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association: “NAPABA offers its congratulations to Judge Quraishi, Judge Pan, and Gina Rodriguez on their historic nominations. We applaud President Biden for nominating these well-qualified candidates and taking action to nominate a representative judiciary. These nominations are particularly meaningful to our community, especially in the wake of anti-Asian violence. It is particularly notable that Judge Quraishi would become the first Muslim American Article III judge, and that Judge Pan and Ms. Rodriguez will both have groundbreaking roles if confirmed. We urge the Senate to quickly confirm them.” [Statement, 3/30/21]
Muslim Bar Association of New York: “MuBANY welcomes the White House’s announcement to nominate eleven judicial candidates. The slate of nominations reflect both the personal and professional diversity of America, and we applaud the administration for their commitment to diversifying the federal bench.” [Tweet, 3/30/21]
NAACP: “Only eight Black women have ever served on our nation’s appellate courts. Today, President Biden nominated three more Black women appellate judges. #RepresentationMatters” [Tweet, 3/30/21],

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: The 7th Circuit has been all-white since 2017. Trump had five opportunities to add a judge of color, but he appointed only white judges. Today, Biden nominated Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a Black woman, who would be the second judge of color EVER to serve on the court. A huge deal. [Tweet, 3/30/21]
Pennsylvania Governor Phil Murphy: I congratulate both Magistrate Judge Zahid Quraishi and Julien Neals on their nominations to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. With these historic nominations, @POTUS is proving his commitment to ensuring that our bench is more diverse. [Tweet, 3/30/21] 
Here’s additional coverage of the announcement:Washington Post: Biden’s first slate of judicial nominees aims to quickly boost diversity in federal courts

President Biden announced his first slate of judicial nominees on Tuesday, elevating U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the influential 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.

Jackson, often considered a contender to be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, is among Biden’s 11 nominations that include three Black women for appeals court vacancies and the first Muslim American to serve on a District Court. The group is designed to send a message about the administration’s desire for more diversity on the federal bench and how rapidly the president wants to put his mark on it.

Biden previously 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.

New York Times: Biden Names Diverse Nominees for the Federal Bench

Mr. Biden is diversifying not only the ethnic backgrounds of his candidates but their professional ones as well, seeking out lawyers with varied legal careers.

“We have a real opportunity to remake what the judiciary looks like and remake it in a way that looks like the country and the lawyers that practice in it,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as former President Barack Obama’s White House counsel from 2014 to 2017 and supports the new approach.

Allies say Mr. Biden, a former longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a deep background in judicial nominations, is determined to install judges with different sets of experiences from the mainly white corporate law partners and prosecutors who have been tapped for decades by presidents of both parties. Mr. Biden has also promised to appoint the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court.

Wall Street Journal: Biden Underscores Diversity With First Judicial Nominees
President Biden announced his first batch of judicial nominees Tuesday, using his early choices to place an emphasis on bringing more racial and professional diversity to the federal courts.

The White House announced Mr. Biden’s selections for 10 federal judgeships—three for the powerful U.S. appeals courts and seven for U.S. district courts—as well as one nominee for a local Superior Court post in the District of Columbia.

[…]Among his other choices Tuesday, Mr. Biden nominated candidates who would be the first Muslim-American federal judge, the first Asian-American Pacific Islander woman to serve on Washington, D.C.’s federal trial court, and the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge in Maryland.

CNN: Biden unveils first slate of judicial nominees featuring diverse and history-making selections
President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a diverse slate of 11 judicial nominees, including three African American women for Circuit Court vacancies and a candidate who, if confirmed, would be the first Muslim American federal judge in US history.

[…]

“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” 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.”

The Biden administration pledged early on to prioritize judicial nominations and to cast a wide net se
eking professional and demographic diversity, including those who had served as public defenders, civil rights lawyers and legal aid attorneys. During the campaign, Biden pledged to name the first African American woman to the Supreme Court should a vacancy arise.

CBS News: Biden announces first slate of judicial nominees with picks that would make history
President Biden on Tuesday rolled out his first slate of judicial nominees, announcing candidates with diverse backgrounds and professional qualifications as he begins to make his own stamp on the nation’s district and circuit courts.

Of the president’s 11 judicial picks, three set to be nominated to the federal district courts would make history if confirmed by the evenly divided the Senate. The White House said the candidates underscore Mr. Biden’s commitment to diversity on the federal bench.

The president intends to nominate three Black women to fill vacancies on a trio of circuit courts: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the District of Columbia Circuit; Tiffany Cunningham to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Federal Circuit; and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The move brings Mr. Biden one step closer to fulfilling a campaign pledge of putting an African-American woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden vowed to appoint the first Black woman to the high court in the event of a vacancy.

MSNBC: Biden steps up with a bold set of new judicial nominees
Right off the bat, it’s worth emphasizing the sheer volume of the group of nominees. As White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain noted, modern presidents haven’t generally made much of an effort to put forward nominees for the federal bench this early in their terms. At the 100-day marks, for example, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton hadn’t yet nominated anyone for the judiciary. Donald Trump, meanwhile, sent two judicial nominees in his first 100 days, while Back Obama had three.

Joe Biden has been in office for 70 days, and he’s now sent 11 judicial nominees to the Senate for consideration. That’s more than double the total for the last four presidents combined at this early stage in their respective terms, and it serves as a reminder that this White House is taking the matter seriously, as it should.

But more important is the list of nominees. To his credit, the new president has prioritized both qualifications and expanding the diversity of the federal bench. Nine of the 11 nominees, for example, are women.

USA Today: Biden judicial nominees represent diverse professional backgrounds, identities
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday his plans to nominate 11 candidates to the federal judiciary, the most any recent president has put forth in his first 100 days. The slate of candidates reflects a range of diversity in both personal and professional backgrounds.

[…]

The group also includes three Black women nominated to serve on the powerful Circuit Courts, the first Muslim American to be nominated to a federal court and the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Vox: What Biden’s first list of judicial nominees tells us about his approach to the courts
Notably, all three of his appellate nominees are Black women. As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to appoint an African American woman to the Supreme CourtBut Black women aren’t just unrepresented on the nation’s highest court — they’re also massively underrepresented on lower courts.

When Biden took office, only five of the nearly 300 sitting federal appellate judges were Black women, according to the Federal Judicial Center. If Biden’s three nominees are confirmed, he will have nearly doubled the number of Black women judges on the federal courts of appeal, also known as circuit courts.

Chicago Sun Times: President Biden picks ex-federal public defender Candace Jackson-Akiwumi for Chicago federal appeals court seat

President Joe Biden picked his first federal judicial nominees on Tuesday, including a former federal public defender, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to be on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago.

He also nominated Tiffany Cunningham, an intellectual and patent attorney, who is a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Both Jackson-Akiwumi and Cunningham are Black women and are part of Biden’s push to quickly diversify the federal judiciary and provide a contrast to the almost all white, male picks of former President Donald Trump. Biden promised during his campaign that he would nominate a Black woman to fill his first Supreme Court vacancy.

NJ.com: Biden to nominate New Jerseyan as first Muslim American to serve as a U.S. District Court judge
President Joe Biden, making his first picks for the federal bench, announced Tuesday he would nominate Zahid Quraishi for the U.S. District Court. If confirmed, Quraishi will be the first Muslim American to serve as a federal district judge.

Quraishi, a Rutgers Law School graduate who currently serves as a U.S. magistrate judge, is one of Biden’s first 10 nominations to the federal courts.

Biden also will fill a second vacancy on the U.S. District Court in New Jersey with Julien Neals, Bergen County counsel and acting county administrator.

Baltimore Sun: President Biden to nominate two Maryland women to become federal judges, including the first woman of color
President Biden intends to nominate two women to the federal bench in Maryland, including the first woman of color to ever serve as a federal judge in the state.

The White House said Biden will nominate Deborah Boardman and Lydia Griggsby to become U.S. District Court judges. Boardman is currently a magistrate judge, while Griggsby has served on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since 2014.

“These two judges will safeguard the rights of all Marylanders, uphold the Constitution and rule of law, and faithfully follow the judicial oath to ‘do equal right to the poor and to the rich,’” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement. “I am confident that both of these judges will serve the people of Maryland very well once confirmed for these lifetime appointments.”

Griggsby, a Baltimore native and former chief counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, would be the first woman of color to serve as a judge on the district court in Maryland.

Albuquerque Journal: Biden to nominate Las Cruces attorney for federal judgeship
Las Cruces civil rights and defense attorney Margaret Strickland will be nominated today to one of the two long vacant seats on the U.S. District Court in New Mexico by President Joe Biden.

[…]
Former state District Judge Fernando Macias has known Strickland since she started practicing law in Las Cruces.

“I really feel that there is a great deal of community pride in her nomination to the federal bench,” Macias said. “She brings a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment to her representation of her clients. She is hardworking, but has not lost her idealism.”

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