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Biden rolls out latest slate of judicial nominees

Biden to fill federal court vacancies
Biden to fill federal court vacancies 08:35

Washington — President Biden on Wednesday announced a third wave of judicial nominees, continuing the White House's theme of selecting candidates with diverse backgrounds and professional qualifications as he undertakes an effort to make his own mark on the federal bench reshaped by his predecessor.

"President Biden has spent decades committed to strengthening the federal bench, which is why he continues to move at a historically fast pace with respect to judicial nominations," the White House said. "His first announcement of candidates for the judiciary was made faster than any that of any new president in modern American history, and today's announcement further continues that trend."

Hailing the six nominees as "groundbreaking choices," the White House announced Mr. Biden's intent to name three individuals to the U.S. circuit courts, which are the last stop for thousands of cases moving through the federal judicial system, and three to the U.S. district courts.

Mr. Biden's intended nominees to the circuit courts — Chief Judge Gustavo Gelpí to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eunice Lee to the 2nd Circuit, and Veronica Rossman to the 10th Circuit — all have experience working as federal public defenders, a profession judicial groups say is underrepresented on the federal bench.

If confirmed by the evenly divided Senate, Gelpí would be the second Hispanic judge and second from Puerto Rico to serve on the 1st Circuit, while Lee would be the second Black woman to serve on the 2nd Circuit.

The president's pick for the district court in Washington, Lauren King, would be the third active Native American federal judge in the country and the first in Washington. Karen Williams, Mr. Biden's nominee for the district court in New Jersey, would be the first Black judge to serve in its courthouse in Camden. Angel Kelley, the candidate for the district court in Massachusetts, would be the second Black woman and second Asian American to serve on that court if her nomination is approved by the Senate.

There are 81 current vacancies and 26 future vacancies across the federal judiciary, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Mr. Biden has so far put forward 20 names to fill open seats.

Progressive judicial groups have been urging the president to place an emphasis on judicial nominations after former President Donald Trump appointed more than 230 judges to the federal bench, most of them white men. 

So far, the Senate has yet to confirm any of Mr. Biden's picks, though the Senate Judiciary Committee has begun to consider his nominations. The panel, led by Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois, held its first confirmation hearing for two nominees to the circuit courts and three to the district courts last month, and the panel will hear from three of Mr. Biden's candidates for the district courts Wednesday.

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