Biden Is Building a Federal Judiciary that Delivers Equal Justice
On the evening of October 26, the U.S. Senate took a roll call vote to confirm one of President Biden’s nominees to serve on a federal district court. When that vote ended, the Senate had confirmed three federal judges in a row — Tana Lin, Myrna Pérez, and Jia Cobb — who are all women of color and civil rights lawyers.
This kind of personal and professional diversity marks a dramatic shift from the previous administration’s nominees and highlights the Biden administration’s focus on building a federal judiciary that delivers equal justice — and one that is both reflective and representative of our communities.
The Senate just confirmed @POTUS’s 21st Article III federal judge.
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) October 26, 2021
Of the 28 Article III federal judges confirmed so far this year:
- More than half (15) are women of color or Native women
- 21 are women
- 19 are people of color or Native
- 12 have served as public defenders
- Seven have significant experience as civil rights lawyers
Research shows that demographic and professional diversity on our courts increases public trust in the judiciary and improves judicial decisionmaking. Yet, for far too long, those selecting and confirming federal judges have not made this a priority.
Thankfully, we’re seeing that change. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D. Ill., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y., have prioritized the consideration of nominees in committee and the confirmation of nominees on the Senate floor. We have a long way to go until our judiciary lives up to its promise of equal justice, but the Biden administration has made progress that we must build upon to make our courts more fair and more inclusive.
The Senate has already confirmed some exceptional lawyers from diverse backgrounds who will help bring equal justice to the federal judiciary. For example:
- Jia Cobb, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- David Estudillo, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Gustavo Gelpí, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit
- Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Lauren King, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Eunice Lee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Tana Lin, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Michael Nachmanoff, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Myrna Pérez, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Beth Robinson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Veronica Rossman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- Margaret Strickland, U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
And there are many other impressive nominees making their way through the confirmation process. But in order to build a judiciary that is truly dedicated to equal justice, we must ensure that all federal judicial vacancies are filled with qualified nominees committed to civil and human rights. That’s why the Senate and the Biden administration must make diversity a continued priority and support more diverse nominees — including more Latino and Latina nominees, LGBTQ nominees, nominees with disabilities, and Native American nominees.
Additionally, we need to work to modernize our courts so that our federal judiciary can fairly and more efficiently administer justice. The last time Congress significantly increased lower court judgeships to keep up with population increases was more than 30 years ago. With many courts burdened by exceptionally high caseloads, delays are compromising access to justice for people across the country. It’s necessary for Congress to authorize new circuit court and district court judgeships to meet our current needs.
Equal justice for our communities can’t wait.