Biden Emphasizes Diversity With First Judicial Nominees

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson listens to arguments as local high-school students observe a reenactment of a landmark Supreme Court case at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The White House announced 11 judicial nominees on Tuesday, in keeping with Joe Biden’s campaign promise to make the judiciary a priority during his presidency. If confirmed, his nominations would include three African American women to circuit courts, the first Muslim American to serve on a district court, and the first AAPI woman to serve on the D.C. District Court.

Biden intends to name Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, replacing Merrick Garland, who was recently confirmed as U.S. attorney general. Jackson has been serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2013.

While on the campaign trail, Biden made clear his intention to nominate the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. With many Supreme Court justices hailing from the D.C. Circuit Court, Jackson will be seen by many as a potential future nominee to the nation’s highest court.

Biden will nominate two more Black women judges to circuit courts: Tiffany Cunningham and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi. Cunningham, a patent attorney with Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, would become the first Black person ever to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit if confirmed.

Jackson-Akiwumi, currently a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP in Washington, D.C., will be the only Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit if confirmed.

Biden also nominated Zahid N. Quraishi, who currently works as a U.S. magistrate judge in New Jersey, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. If confirmed, he will be the first Muslim American federal judge.

Florence Y. Pan, an associate judge on the D.C. Superior Court, was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She would be the first AAPI woman on the court.

During his tenure, Donald Trump had over 200 of his judicial nominees confirmed, including three Supreme Court nominees, securing a conservative hold on the federal courts for years to come.

Biden campaigned on changing the face of the judiciary, making a promise to appoint “U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade,” as seen on his campaign website as part of his “Plan for Black America.”

Biden, a former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has taken the first steps in leaving his mark on the U.S. courts with this first wave of nominations.

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

Biden Emphasizes Diversity With First Judicial Nominees