Senate Confirms Biden’s 200th Federal Judge | Big Change Coming to Judicial Nominations

May 24, 2024
Full Court Press | First Liberty Insider

Here’s a quick roundup on judicial nominations and what’s happening across the federal courts.

Senate Confirms Biden’s 200th Federal Judge

This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden’s 200th judge to the federal bench.

Per the Heritage Foundation’s judicial tracker, President Biden is outpacing Donald Trump on judicial confirmations at this point in his presidency.

In its most recent wave, the Senate confirmed Seth Robert Aframe to be an appellate court judge on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. With this confirmation, that federal appeals court is now fully comprised of Democrat-appointed judges.

Several nominees were also confirmed for district court seats in Arizona and California. Last week, three nominees were confirmed for district court judgeships, which include one in New York and two in South Dakota.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the confirmations a “major milestone” in a speech before the Senate floor this week. Sen Schumer has said it’s a top priority to confirm as many nominees as possible in an attempt to match, or possibly surpass, Trump’s total. 234 judges were confirmed during the Trump administration.

But there are still complicating factors for Schumer to make this happen. As the Washington Examiner explains, the absence of Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey for the second corruption trial of his career, complicates Schumer’s ability to move judges, as does a “pocket veto” from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia who has pledged not to support any nominee who cannot attract bipartisan support.

Read More:

Reuters: Biden secures 200th judicial confirmation as election looms

Reuters: US Senate cements all-Democratic appointed bench on 1st Circuit

Politico: The White House is in a race against the clock to confirm more judges than Trump 

The White House: Statement from President Joe Biden on Confirming 200 Federal Judges

Washington Examiner: Menendez trial complicates Schumer’s path to confirming Biden judges

Bloomberg Law: Menendez Bribery Trial Complicates Judicial Confirmation Votes

U.S. Courts: Judicial Vacancies

Senate Judiciary Committee Considers Big Change to Judicial Nomination Process

At a recent hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said he’s open to bringing back a Senate norm that requires home state senators to approve or turn down federal judicial nominees, a process known as the “blue slip.”

The “blue slip” prevents federal judicial nominees from moving forward unless both senators from the state approved of the pick. That informal tradition remains in place for district court nominees, but was scrapped for circuit court nominees in 2017 under Republican control of the Senate. It was not restored when Democrats took over the Senate majority in 2021. Senator Durbin said he would reinstate the policy for circuit court nominees, but it would have to be approved by both parties.

“If we are going to do anything on blue slips on circuit court judges, I think there’s one premise: We should do it prospectively, not knowing the outcome of an election that may change the presidency or may not. That is a fair way to approach it,” Durbin said during the hearing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who served as the committee’s chairman when the “blue slip” was eliminated, said it was a part of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to confirm as many judges as possible during the Trump administration.

As the blue slip discussion is renewed, some say that Democrats are trying to lay the groundwork to stymie judicial nominations if President Trump wins in November. Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations to Sen. Grassley called the idea “nonsense.”

“Durbin fears Trump will win back the White House and Republicans will win back the Senate in November,” Davis added.

“On the surface, it seems that Democrats are preparing to lose the majority and the White House,” said strategist Ron Bonjean, former chief of staff of the Senate Republican Conference, who likened it to an “insurance policy.”

Read More: 

Fox News: Sen Durbin mulls reviving tool that could stymie Trump nominees in another term

National Review: Durbin’s Blue Slip Proposal Is Hard to Take Seriously

Washington Examiner: Senate considering major overhaul to judicial nomination process

Newsmax: Rule Reinstatement Could Stall Judicial Confirmations

Courthouse News: Dems open the door for expanding judicial blue slips after years of partisanship

Time is Ticking for Senate or White House to Take Action on Controversial Nominee

There may not be a path forward for Adeel Mangi, President Biden’s nominee for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“We are getting to a point where if they want to get another candidate confirmed, the time for that is coming up,” said John P. Collins, a George Washington University law professor who tracks judicial nominations. He added that the White House could swiftly pull Mangi’s nomination and put forward an alternative candidate. Otherwise, they risk waiting too long to act as election year priorities near, potentially leaving the vacancy open for a Republican president and Senate majority.

Mangi’s nomination will expire at the end of the 118th Congress, which is just a few months away. And some experts are speculating that this is just what the president and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are planning for.

“This nominee has lost all hope from the Biden White House of getting a floor vote, given we are months away from the election,” said Ron Bonjean, a former spokesman for former Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and former chief of staff of the Senate Republican Conference.

Mangi’s nomination has drawn considerable opposition because of his affiliation with certain groups, including the Rutgers Center for Security, Race and Rights—an organization that promotes anti-Semitism and praises terrorist groups.  A broad coalition opposing Mangi has grown to include 21 police organizations, five Jewish groups, 10 GOP members of Congress, all Republican members of the Judiciary Committee and at least three Senate Democrats.

It does not appear that President Biden will withdraw Mangi’s nomination. A White House spokesperson has said the President “is proud to have chosen Adeel Mangi,” calling him “an extraordinarily qualified nominee” and noting he “would make history on the bench.”

Read More:

Bloomberg Law: Biden Faces Political Dilemma on Stalled Judge Nominee

Fox News: Schumer may let controversial Biden nominee with ‘problematic’ ties quietly expire

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