6 Month Scorecard: Biden & Schumer’s Record on Federal Judges

July 30, 2021
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by Jorge Gomez • 5 min read

Six months since taking office, it’s now a good time to review President Biden’s record on judicial confirmations and how his administration is treating the nomination process compared to his predecessors.

Let’s begin by noting the Biden administration and its political allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate have made it clear that their goal is to “restore balance” to the judiciary, a not-so-subtle jab that they wish to counteract the judicial impact of the Trump administration, which confirmed over 230 federal judges.

It’s also no secret that President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are also prioritizing different qualities when vetting judges. The White House announced from the very start (according to a statement attached to its first wave of nominees) it would seek to put forth nominees with a “broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective.”

This focus on diversity is a stark contrast to that of the Trump administration, which placed stronger emphasis on picking judges whose records and judicial philosophy reflected a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its original intent and text—including the longstanding First Amendment protection of religious liberty.

Scanning mainstream media headlines today would lead one to believe the Biden administration, only six months into its first year, has already undone the legacy of the previous president by leaps and bounds.

CNN (and a number of other judicial reporting outlets) have noted the number of Biden judges confirmed so far has been “more than any other president at the same point in the last 50 years.”

At first glance, this might appear groundbreaking and historic. But it’s misleading.

It’s true that Biden has been able to confirm more judges at this point than any president since Richard Nixon. But the fact remains that only eight (8) Biden judges are confirmed to the federal bench so far.

Even with low confirmations, Biden has put the foot on the gas pedal when it comes to nominations. He’s put forth over thirty (30) nominees since taking office—higher than any president since Ronald Reagan.

Nevertheless, as Americans continue monitor Biden’s performance on judges, we should heed the proverbial wisdom of an old saying: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”

Biden is slightly ahead of his predecessors in confirmations, but there is no guarantee he will or can make the same overall impact in the long run.

This is especially clear when one counts just more than seventy-five (75) vacancies currently at Biden’s disposal. Compared that to Trump, who had 130 vacancies to fill at this point, about forty percent (40%) more empty seats.

Below is a quick run-down of where judicial confirmations, vacancies and nominations stand as of July 29, 2021:

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Flipping Forward: Notable Vacancies to Watch

In the coming weeks and months, First Liberty will be closely monitoring and keeping you up to date on the status of confirmations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Here is a brief look at the composition of this circuit, as of July 29, 2021:

  • Total Number of Active Judges: 13
  • Republican-appointed Judges: 6
  • Democratic-appointed Judges: 4
  • Current Vacancies: 3

There are two (2) Biden nominees for the 2nd Circuit already in the pipeline and pending with the U.S. Senate.

If Biden’s nominees are confirmed, it will bring him closer to “flipping” the 2nd Circuit to a liberal-appointed majority. He would still have to nominate one more nominee to make that happen, but the vacancy is there for him to fill.

However, President Biden and his congressional allies aren’t just laser-focused on filling vacancies as fast as possible. They’re also attempting a brazen power-grab to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with four additional justices, as well as creating possibly hundreds more lower court vacancies for Biden to fill with liberal and politically-motivated judges.

With so much religious liberty litigation going through our federal courts right now, First Liberty will continue to expose the Democratic-led court “reform” effort and provide the facts and information if we uncover any nominees who have a radical or unacceptable record on religious freedom.

There’s far too much at stake for the judiciary to be packed with judges loyal to a political party. Now, more than ever, America’s courts need judges committed to constitutional principles and the rule of law.

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