After four years of the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Senate filling the federal judiciary with conservatives judges, President Joe Biden has finally turned the tide. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Julien Xavier Neals and Regina Rodriguez to District Courts in New Jersey and Colorado.
They will be the first two Biden appointees to sit on the federal bench. Both were initially nominated by Barack Obama in 2015, but Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), then in charge of the Senate majority, refused to give them an up or down vote.
But now Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the Senate Majority Leader. He said Tuesday’s confirmations were the opening salvo in an effort to bring “balance, experience and diversity back to the judiciary.” Neals is African-American. Rodriguez is Latina and Asian-American.
NBC News explains that during the Trump administration, Republicans advanced “234 judges to the federal bench, flipping the ideological balance in numerous circuit courts and installing three justices to create the most conservative Supreme Court in nearly a century.” But now the tables have turned, and Democrats have kept in place GOP-written rules that allow for speedy confirmations by reducing debate time.
Biden has the opportunity to fill 71 district court vacancies and nine appeals court vacancies. On Tuesday, Schumer asserted, “Under this Democratic majority, the Senate will swiftly and consistently confirm president Biden’s appointments to the federal bench.”
Ketanji Brown Jackson is likely the next Biden nominee to receive a Senate vote. Jackson, who is up for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is thought to be a frontrunner for the next Supreme Court vacancy.