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More Diverse Group of Federal Judges Expected Under Biden

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021   

SEATTLE -- The change from the Trump to Biden administrations means a different approach to appointing federal judges.

President Donald Trump inherited more than 100 vacancies because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to confirm most of President Barack Obama's appointments in his final two years in the White House.

Trump proceeded to have 234 judges confirmed to lifetime appointments under Article III of the Constitution during his term, more than a quarter of federal judge positions.

Maria Diamond, a Seattle attorney who serves as a representative for Washington and board member of the American Association for Justice, said the overwhelming majority were white and male, but President Joe Biden plans to change that.

"We are best served as a society when our judiciary reflects the broad diversity and experience[s] and perspective[s] that we have," Diamond contended.

Eighty-four percent of the judges confirmed under Trump were white, compared with 63% under Obama, according to the American Constitution Society. More than three-quarters were male.

Critics also noted a handful of Trump picks lacked experience. McConnell said the record number of appointments under Trump is one of his greatest achievements in office.

Biden's first two nominations for district judgeships in Washington state are bucking the trend of the last administration. Not only are they more diverse, but they also have different professional experience than many Trump appointees.

Diamond pointed out most hailed from backgrounds defending corporations, but stressed Biden has expressed a desire to appoint folks from historically underrepresented sectors.

"That would include public defenders, civil-rights and legal-aid attorneys, attorneys who represent workers, who represent consumers, who represent families," Diamond outlined.

Diamond added these choices aren't abstract. While many think about a president's duty appointing Supreme Court justices, she explained district court judges will make decisions on issues that affect everyone, including gun control, voting rights and environmental justice.

"It will be, for the most part, the lower courts who rule on those," Diamond confirmed. "It's a very small percentage of cases that make their way up on appeal and ultimately to the Supreme Court."

Disclosure: Washington State Association for Justice contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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