The Senate prioritized confirming President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees up until the last hours of the upper chamber’s business sessions before the holiday recess, finalizing a portion of the more than 160 nominees Biden had advocated for this year. A majority of his picks are women and people of color, fulfilling his promise to ‘diversify’ the federal bench.
A Pew Research Center report found that as of Nov. 5, women who were black, hispanic, asian, or part of another minority group accounted for 42% of the judges Biden had appointed, including Biden’s sole appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the highest court.
According to Ballotpedia, there are approximately 1,770 authorized judgeships distributed across 209 courts in the federal court system. Nearly half of these judgeships are filled by the president’s choice, entitling the appointees to lifelong terms. Others are chosen by current judges and serve for specific periods.
Here’s a list of a few of the judges the Senate confirmed in recent months:
Jerry Edwards Jr.: Confirmed as the first Black federal judge in Louisiana’s U.S. Western District Court, Edwards served as first assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the civil division in Shreveport before his confirmation. His legal career and experience provide a fresh perspective to the Louisiana judiciary.
Irma Carrillo Ramirez: Confirmed as the first Latina judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a notably conservative court. Ramirez has extensive experience presiding over civil cases. Her confirmation, with an 80-12 bipartisan vote, contrasts sharply with other contentious Biden nominees. Ramirez has extensive legal experience, from her bachelor’s degree at West Texas State University to her tenure as a federal magistrate since 2002.
Loren AliKhan: Confirmed as the first South Asian woman on the federal trial court in the District of Columbia, AliKhan served as an associate judge on the DC Court of Appeals before her confirmation. Notable cases include representing the District of Columbia in a tax dispute and involvement in litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act.
Shanlyn Park: Confirmed as the first Native Hawaiian woman federal judge in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court, Park previously served as a state court judge and assistant federal public defender. Her varied legal background contributes to a diverse perspective on the judiciary.
Ana de Alba: Elevated to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, de Alba, a first-generation Mexican-American, previously served as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of California. She’s recognized for her legal advocacy in civil and labor rights.
Brandy R. McMillion: Nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, McMillion is the 50th Black judge and the 101st person of color appointed under the Biden administration. McMillion brings legal experience from roles at Bryan Cave LLP, Perkins Coie LLP, and Pepper Hamilton LLP. Originally from Ohio and later moving to Michigan, McMillion earned her law degree from George Washington University Law School following engineering degrees from the University of Michigan. She has tried six cases to verdict or final decision, including involvement in a high-profile case prosecuting alleged health care fraud.
Mónica Ramírez Almadani: Confirmed as a federal district judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ramírez Almadani brings a rich background from Public Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, and the United States Department of Justice, emphasizing civil rights, immigration matters, and white-collar defense. From 2005 to 2009, Almadani worked at the national American Civil Liberties Union Foundation’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, handling immigration litigation in federal courts. She has also served as a Trustee of the Mexican American Bar Foundation since 2017.
Jennifer L. Hall: Hall was confirmed as the next U.S. District Judge for the District of Delaware on Oct. 18. She served as a magistrate judge with significant experience in patent cases and has a legal background encompassing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, clerkships, and litigating patent cases. Hall presided over several high profile cases, including one involving an Eighth Amendment claim by an incarcerated individual who alleged being deprived of a mattress. She found the inmate had been without a mattress for a month, yet concluded it was due to a legitimate security reason, as he had damaged previous mattresses. In another case, she recommended dismissing certain discrimination claims by a black Muslim firefighter due to insufficient supporting details in the complaint.
Mustafa Kasubhai: Kusaubhai stands as the successor to U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, who transitioned to senior status retirement. His appointment as a magistrate marked him as the first Muslim American on the federal bench. Kasubhai was born in Reseda, California, in 1970 to immigrant parents from Mumbai, India. Kasubhai served on the Lane County Circuit Court for approximately a decade before his federal appointment. Prior to his tenure as a judge, he practiced civil law in Eugene and Klamath Falls. He obtained his J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1996. Following law school, he went into private practice, initially focusing on family law. Subsequently, he specialized in labor law litigation, representing injured workers before the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board and in 1998 established his own labor law firm, Kasubhai & Sánchez.
Rich Federico: Frederico, a Kansas federal public defender was confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, marking Biden’s second appointment to the Denver-based court. The bipartisan vote of 61-29 on Dec. 11, backed by support from both of Kansas’ Republican senators, contributes to a record number of circuit court judges with public defender backgrounds appointed by Biden, marked the administration’s effort to diversify the federal bench traditionally led by former prosecutors and large law firm attorneys. According to the progressive advocacy group Alliance for Justice, an additional 36 of Biden’s confirmed judicial nominees had previous roles as public defenders.