Biden announces 5 new federal judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced five nominees to federal judgeships, including the first Muslim-American on any circuit court, looking to add to more than 150 of his judicial selections who have already been confirmed to the bench.

The announcements by the Democratic president are part of the White House’s push to nominate diverse judges, especially those from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, and to do so even in states with Republican senators.

Mr. Biden nominated Nicole Berner, the general counsel of the Service Employees International Union, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. If confirmed by the Senate, Berner would be that court’s first openly LGBTQ judge.

Adeel Mangi, Mr. Biden’s nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, would be the first Muslim-American circuit court judge, if confirmed.

Mr. Biden nominated Judge Cristal Brisco, a state court judge who would be the first Black woman and the first woman of color to serve as federal district court judge in the Northern District of Indiana. He also nominated Judge Gretchen Lund, who has served on the bench for 15 years, for that district, which has multiple vacancies.

Judge Amy Baggio, a former assistant federal public defender who is now a state court judge, was the president’s nominee for the District of Oregon.

White House counsel Ed Siskel noted that the nominees include “four women, two nominees from a state represented by Senate Republicans, and three historic first nominees.”

They continue “the president’s drive to bring professional and demographic diversity to the federal judiciary, and his commitment to working with senators on both sides of the aisle,” Siskel said in a statement.

The White House said Mr. Biden has “set records when it comes to professional diversity, appointing more civil rights lawyers and public defenders than any previous president.” The latest round of nominees “continue to fulfill the president’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the White House said.

The latest slate of judicial nominees is the 42nd put forward by the president since taking office. Mr. Biden has appointed 154 life-tenured judicial nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate. Of those, the White House says that two-thirds are women and two-thirds are people of color, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the high court’s first Black female justice.

Mr. Biden has also pledged to diversify the professional experience of judges who sit on the federal bench, appointing more public defenders and civil rights lawyers than his predecessors.

The White House says that it is just getting started and that more judicial appointments are in the works. But the process of moving nominations through the Senate — even one controlled by Democrats — is slow enough that Biden may struggle to match in four years the 230-plus judges appointed to the federal bench by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020 and has built a commanding early lead in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, also appointed three justices to the Supreme Court compared with Biden’s one. The widening of the high court’s conservative majority to 6-3 led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, and decisions ending affirmative action in higher education and expanding gun rights.

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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