HomePoliticsBiden will secure the 200th judicial confirmation as an election looms

Biden will secure the 200th judicial confirmation as an election looms

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden will secure confirmation of his 200th federal judiciary appointment in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, surpassing his Republican predecessor Donald Trump‘s pace even as the clock ticks towards their election rematch on November 5.

Reaching the milestone at this point in his presidency is evidence, according to Biden’s allies, that he could achieve a goal that his fellow Democrats not long ago feared might be out of reach — matching Trump’s number of 234 judges appointed to lifelong positions in parliament. federal bank in office in four years.

Challenges in confirming judicial nominees in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority, had left Biden behind Trump’s pace early this year. In fact: Democratic Senator Dick Durbinwho chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that reviews such nominations, had previously called reaching the 200 mark a year-end goal.

With Biden at 199, the Senate has scheduled a vote on Wednesday on the confirmation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Angela Martinez as a district court judge in Arizona.

One way Biden has managed to outpace Trump is by striking deals with Republican senators to fill court-level vacancies in their home states. That means Biden has sometimes opted for compromises and moderate nominees rather than more left-wing judgments, as he might prefer.

Trump, with the Senate then controlled by Republicans, appointed the second-highest number of judges ever in a single term, behind only Jimmy Carter. Biden is approaching Trump’s number, despite inheriting less than half the number of vacancies as Trump when he takes office.

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Durbin said in an interview that Senate Democrats “have done better than I expected” in confirming Biden’s nominees and that it is now possible to reach Trump’s numbers even as hurdles remain.

“I’ll keep going as long as we have good nominees that I can send to the Senate for consideration,” Durbin said.

BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Trump succeeded in moving the federal judiciary to the right, including by giving the U.S. Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, compared to an evenly divided 4-4 when he took office. Trump appointed three conservative justices to America’s highest court: Neil Gorsuch in 2017 to fill a vacancy that Senate Republicans had refused to let Democratic President Barack Obama fill in 2016; Brett Kavanaugh in 2018; and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.

The Supreme Court has since made rulings applauded by conservatives, including overturning abortion rights, expanding gun rights and limiting the power of U.S. regulators.

Biden has made one appointment to the Supreme Court: liberal appellate judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in 2022, the first Black woman to serve as a justice. All told, Biden has appointed 23% of the 874 federal judges as he moves the judiciary back in a more leftward direction.

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“That’s a significant change considering the type of nominees put on the bench,” Durbin said.

Trump’s outsized influence over the judiciary has included his appointment of 54 judges to the 13 federal appeals courts, which are one step below the Supreme Court. Biden has made 41 such appointments.

Durbin also praised the diversity Biden has brought to the bench. Two-thirds of his appointees are women, and about the same percentage are black, Hispanic or other racial minorities.

‘RUN THE TABLE’

Thomas Jipping, a senior legal fellow at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, said Biden’s six 1981 predecessors averaged about 30 confirmed judges between this point in the final year of a presidential term and December 1 of that year. making it unlikely Biden can reach the 235 needed to surpass Trump.

“You should run the table,” Jipping said.

Biden has 25 nominees pending. The Judiciary Committee’s calendar has enough hearings scheduled to process enough nominees and send them to the Senate for confirmation votes so he can overshadow Trump.

But nominations can easily get stuck in a Senate that is so divided. Biden’s pick to become the first Muslim federal appeals court judge, Adeel Mangi, faces an uncertain path to joining the Philadelphia-based 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals after three Democrats said they were with Republicans would vote against him.

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Senate Democrats have successfully won confirmation of other controversial nominations, such as Nicole Berner, a top union lawyer who previously worked at abortion provider Planned Parenthood. The Senate confirmed Berner in March to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House has struck deals with Republican U.S. senators in states including Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming to move forward with nominations for judge positions in those states. It is Senate practice for nominees to such judges to receive a “blue slip” — an informal endorsement — from their home state senators, regardless of party.

“There isn’t a single day where I don’t have contact with a Republican office,” Phil Brest, the senior White House adviser in charge of nominations, said in an interview.

John Collins, a law professor at George Washington University who studies judicial appointments, said Republican senators are more likely to reject candidates who are older, have been former prosecutors or have worked in corporate defense. But such compromises mean Biden can fill positions now, rather than risk Republicans regaining control of the Senate in the November elections or Trump regaining the presidency.

The White House’s goal now, Collins said, is to “prevent more extreme outcomes in the future.”

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Will Dunham)

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