Biden’s Bid to Diversify the Federal Judiciary Hits a High-Water Mark
The president has made the most of Democratic control of the Senate.
As the second year of his presidency draws to a close, Joe Biden has nominated an impressively diverse array of judges.
As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, since he took office in 2021, 97 lifetime federal judges have been confirmed under Biden, far outpacing his predecessor Donald Trump (85) and former boss Barack Obama (62). This is due mainly to the fact that Democratic Party control of the Senate has allowed the president to push through nominations.
Three out of every four of those confirmations were women. About two-thirds were people of color. Eleven Black women were appointed to the powerful circuit court, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black Woman to serve on the Supreme Court. They also have a wide range of experience, including public defenders or people with backgrounds in workers’ rights.
The diversity of nominations “says to the American people…if you wind up in federal court for whatever reason, you’re much more likely to have a judge who understands where you came from, who you are, and what you’ve been through,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told the AP. “Having a more diverse federal bench in every single respect shows more respect for the American people.”
The push for diversity should come as no surprise. Biden promised to counteract Trump’s judicial legacy, which saw the judiciary pushed to the right, as well as bringing new perspectives to the bench beyond the overwhelmingly white and male nominees seen under Trump.
Biden’s number two is Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian vice president, and he boasts one of the most diverse cabinets in history. He also nominated Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Cook is the first Black woman to serve on the Board, and Jefferson is the fourth Black man.
But while he has done well in filling public-facing roles, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which focuses on issues related to Black equity, said he needs to do more to make sure internal positions are equally diverse.