Senate Confirms Biden’s 100th Judicial Nominee

February 17, 2023
Insider | 100th Nominee

by Jorge Gomez • 6 min read

This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden’s 100th federal judicial nominee, reaching that milestone faster than his two predecessors. At this point in their presidencies, Trump had 88 judges confirmed and Obama had 67.

Biden’s judicial confirmations include one U.S. Supreme Court justice, 30 circuit court and 69 district court judges. The wave of confirmations this week included:

  • Cindy K. Chung to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Gina R. Mendez-Miró to the U.S. District of Puerto Rico.
  • Lindsay C. Jenkins to the U.S. Northern District of Illinois
  • Matthew L. Garcia to the U.S. District of New Mexico.

In a series of statements online, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer boasted about the Senate’s rapid pace. When asked recently if he expected his party to surpass Trump’s total of 234 judges over four Biden years, Schumer said in an interview: “Yes.”

However, the number of vacancies available suggest otherwise. Compared to Trump, Biden has about 50 fewer vacancies at this point. Even if he were to confirm a judge to every open slot, Biden would still have less than 200 total and fall well short of Trump.

Many Americans are worried Biden could overhaul the judiciary, tilt it in a liberal direction and undo the positive impact of Trump’s conservative judges. But where the numbers stand right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Biden would need plenty of judges to retire soon to impact the judiciary the same way as his predecessor.

With this week’s confirmations, Sen. Schumer also made a point to emphasize the administration’s effort to diversify the federal bench:

“We are working hard not only to add more women, more people of color, more lawyers from unique backgrounds to the bench, but people of different walks of life.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called out the President and his party for appearing to be more concerned with identity politics than with the records, qualifications and legal philosophies of judicial nominees. He said on the Senate floor:

“Both the president and the Democratic leader focused their comments overwhelmingly on identity politics and demographic box-checking. The president’s statement spent literally one part of one sentence paying lip service to the question of legal qualifications. The remaining five paragraphs were devoted solely to these new judges’ demographic characteristics.”

Sen. Ted Cruz also sounded the alarm:

“It’s no secret that I was not a fan of the judges Barack Obama appointed. But Obama’s nominees look positively moderate and reasonable compared to the zealots the Biden administration has put forward.”

Many of the President’s judicial picks have raised serious concerns in recent weeks, especially when it comes to the Constitution. Last month, Charnelle Bjelkengren, nominated to be a district court judge in Washington, failed to answer basic constitutional questions from Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, including what Article II and Article V say. You can watch the exchange below:

First Liberty has documented and discussed at length multiple nominees who inspire little confidence that they would protect religious freedom. Many of them hold positions far outside the mainstream. Their records also suggest they could be hostile to religious liberty and unconstitutionally advance a liberal policy agenda from the federal bench.

One of those judicial picks, Rita Lin, chosen for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, admitted during a hearing that she had once called Christians “bigots” and “Bible thumpers.” Others—like Julie Rikelman and Nancy Abudu—have worked for some of the most radical and liberal groups in the country, including the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bradley Garcia, nominee to the influential D.C. Circuit, considered the “second highest” court in the country after the U.S. Supreme Court, admitted that he chose to take cases specifically  to argue against religious freedom. In the Supreme Court case Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru, he challenged the First Amendment rights of religious schools to freely make employment decisions.

All these nominees are currently pending confirmation before the full floor. Given the majority party is putting its foot on the gas pedal, they could soon be sitting on the federal bench for life.

Federal judges make critical legal decisions about your religious freedom. First Liberty will continue to monitor judicial nominees. As the Senate ramps up confirmations and hearings in the next several weeks, our team of experts will continue to provide you with the facts if any of them have a radical or unacceptable record.

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Related News:

Biden, Republicans at Crossroad Over Red-State Judicial Nominees

Bloomberg Law reports: The White House is reaching out to Senate Republicans about US district court vacancies in their states, although lawmakers vary widely in how well they think the discussions are going. Finding common ground will be vital to the Biden administration since 38 of the 56 trial court vacancies without a pending nominee are in red states, or those with two Republican senators.

Biden surpassed 100 judicial confirmations on Tuesday, including Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Most of his circuit and district court appointments have been nominees in blue states, or those represented by Senate Democrats, who narrowly control the chamber.

Senate Judiciary Vote Delayed on Biden Judicial Nominee Criticized As ‘Wildly Unqualified’

Fox News reports: The Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to vote Thursday on Charnelle Bjelkengren, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Washington, only for this and other nominations to be held off until the committee’s next business meeting.

Bjelkengren’s nomination drew controversy when she had a difficult time at her confirmation hearing, which included a viral moment where Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asked her basic questions about the Constitution.

Biden’s ‘Most Radical’ Judges Could ‘Deliver the Left’s Policy Preferences,’ Judicial Watchdogs Warn

Fox News reports: The Senate is poised to approve another slate of President Biden’s judicial nominees with a history of working for left-leaning and radical organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The judicial nominations are Biden’s way of “paying back the left-wing dark money groups who spent over a billion dollars to help elect him and Senate Democrats,” according to Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network. “These nominees will happily deliver the left’s policy preferences from the bench, regardless of the law,” she added. “If confirmed, they will be some of the most radical judges in the country.”

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