President Joe Biden
quietly reached a milestone on Thursday: with the help of Senate Democrats
, he confirmed more lifetime federal judges
than any president in more than 50 years by this point in their first six months in office.
With the Senate's most recent confirmation of Candace Jackson-Akiwumi
to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Biden has confirmed a total of seven judges, all of whom are Article III judges who serve on federal district courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court
Biden has thus far confirmed five district court judges and two appeals court judges.
had confirmed two lifetime federal judges (one of whom was a Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch), Barack Obama
had confirmed zero, George W. Bush had confirmed zero, Bill Clinton
had confirmed zero, George H.W. Bush
had confirmed four, Ronald Reagan
had confirmed zero, and Jimmy Carter
had confirmed four.
Going even further back, the comparison doesn't really apply to President Gerald Ford, who took over for Richard Nixon in 1974, along with his pending judicial nominees
The last time a president moved so quickly to confirm judges was in 1969, more than 50 years ago, when Richard Nixon had confirmed seven judges by this point in his first year in office.
It is still early in Biden's presidency, and a quick start in confirming judges does not guarantee that he will surpass the massive number of judges confirmed by Trump, for example. During Trump's four years in the White House
, Senate Republican
Leader Mitch McConnell
(Ky.) assisted Trump in confirming more than 230 lifetime federal judges.
But, for the time being, Biden can persuade Democrats that he is acting quickly to fill court seats with a mix of progressive and diverse lawyers in order to counteract the effect that Trump's wave of conservative nominees had on the courts.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) took a moment Thursday to emphasize that Democrats, too, understand how to prioritize judicial confirmations.
“Despite the Republican leader’s emphasis on judges during the previous administration, the Senate only confirmed one district or circuit judge before July 4 in Donald Trump’s first year in office,” he said on the Senate floor.
“By the end of today, the Senate will have confirmed more judges this week than in the first six months of Donald Trump’s first year in office,” Schumer said, adding that “the Senate will have confirmed more district and circuit court judges to the federal bench in the first six months of President Biden’s first year than any other administration in 50 years.”
Biden's judicial nominees are already far more diverse than Trump's, who were almost entirely white, male corporate lawyers, with public defenders, civil rights
lawyers, voting rights
lawyers, and historic firsts with Native American and Muslim
Jackson-Akiwumi, who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, will be the 7th Circuit's first judge who worked as a public defender for the majority of her career, as well as the court's only person of color and only the 10th Black
woman ever confirmed to a U.S. appeals court seat.
“We’ve done it with judges who break the federal mold,” Schumer said of Democrats’ confirmation of Biden’s court picks, adding, “They make me proud that we are constantly expanding who in America can get to the bench.”