More Federal Judges Confirmed, But Biden Holds Out on Nominee for Influential DC Circuit

October 8, 2021
Fl Insider | Dc Circuit Hold Out

by Jorge Gomez • 6 min read

Throughout the last several months, the Biden administration has put the foot on the gas pedal when it comes to federal judicial nominations. President Biden recently announced an eighth round of judicial nominations, bringing the number of announced federal judicial nominees to fifty-three (53). But curiously, one open seat is still waiting for a nominee.

This most recent wave comes shortly after the U.S. Senate confirmed several of Biden’s judges, bringing the total number of confirmations under the Biden administration to fourteen (14).

It may appear small, but that number of judicial seats at this point in Biden’s presidency ranks him above his predecessors dating back to President Ford. Additionally, Biden’s five confirmed circuit court judges are the most at this point in a presidency since President Nixon.

Although Biden is nominating at a rapid pace, there’s no guarantee he will or can make the same overall impact in the long run. Biden has approximately forty-percent (40%) fewer vacancies to fill than were available to President Trump.

While judicial analysts often measure success based on getting as many nominees confirmed as quickly as possible, the president’s impact on the judiciary is not always about raw speed and volume.

The Biden administration currently has an opportunity to nominate its second judge to the influential U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Though the President could technically fill that spot right now, it seems he’s “Biden” his time, waiting and weighing the options carefully. Below, we’ll explain why President Biden may be exercising patience on this judicial pick.

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The option to fill a second seat on the D.C. Circuit isn’t a new development. Judge David Tatel announced in mid-February that he’d be taking senior status (a form of quasi-retirement) and that he’d officially step down once his replacement was found.

Despite the seat being available to fill for several months now, President Biden has not yet announced his selection, not even in the most recent wave.

If nominating judges in bulk has been the administration’s strategy so far, why are they bucking the trend on this particular vacancy?

One factor that could explain the president’s waiting game is this: The D.C. Circuit Court being a springboard for future Supreme Court justices.

A single vacancy on the D.C. Circuit Court is prime real estate. Judges on this appeals court are often considered front-runners for Supreme Court vacancies. In fact, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh were all D.C. Circuit judges before being confirmed to the nation’s highest court.

So, it’s expected that a president (especially Biden, who’s looking to differentiate himself from his predecessor on the judicial front) would be very intentional about who’s chosen to fill a spot on the D.C. Circuit.

Another factor could be the intense, national pressure President Biden faces from the radical court-packing posse that’s scheming to “reform” the courts.

But court-packing proponents don’t just want to stack more judges on the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. Their fixation is also on choosing judges who meet the correct intersectional standards on diversity, race and sexual orientation—instead of focusing on judicial philosophy and commitment to constitutional principles. One clear example: Court-packing aficionados at Demand Justice drove a billboard truck through Capitol Hill, part of which bluntly stated: “It’s time for a black woman Supreme Court justice.”

That likely means Biden can’t rush the process and simply nominate just any judge to the D.C. Circuit. Knowing that he could be looking at a future Supreme Court justice, he must choose carefully, namely someone who checks off all the boxes to quell the radical wing of his party and the outside activists groaning for judicial “reform.”

We may not yet know who the President will nominate for his second D.C. Circuit pick, but his record so far does give us an idea.

The Biden administration has openly touted diversity as a priority when selecting federal judges. What’s more, President Biden filled the first vacancy available to him on the D.C. Circuit with an African-American woman, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

From the onset, President Biden’s stated goal has been to “restore balance” to the federal courts by championing a wider diversity of judges. So, there could be some credibility to the rumors circulating about the possibility of a Latino nominee for the D.C. Circuit. At the very least, confirming a Latino judge to the influential appeals court would afford the Biden administration the opportunity to claim it “made history.”

Americans worried about the composition and the integrity of our courts must not be fooled. Biden may not be in a hurry to announce a D.C. Circuit nominee—but America’s judiciary faces a threat from court-packing proponents attempting to rig the courts to rubber-stamp their political agendas.

If there was ever a time to step up and fight for the integrity of our courts and for judges who will uphold the Constitution, it’s right now. Americans must make their voices heard and expose the plot to destroy our judiciary. Without an impartial, independent judiciary, fundamental liberties like religious freedom won’t survive for very long.

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