• Sat. Sep 18th, 2021


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Biden’s First 2 Judicial Picks Are Confirmed With Modest Republican Support

The Senate confirmed President Biden’s first two judicial nominees on Tuesday with modest Republican support, the start of what Democrats intend to be a sprint to fill scores of federal vacancies and rebalance the ideological makeup of the courts after the Trump era.

In a lopsided 66-to-33 vote, the chamber approved Julien Xavier Neals to serve as a district court judge in New Jersey, where a spate of vacancies have contributed to a significant backlog of cases.

A few hours later, Democrats mustered even more Republican support, voting 72 to 28 to confirm Regina M. Rodriguez as the first Asian American judge to serve on the Federal District Court bench in Colorado.

Credit…Pool photo by Tom Williams

“This is the first, certainly not the last — not even close,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, boasted between the votes. “We’re going to be able to restore a lot of balance to the courts because there are a lot of vacancies we are going to fill.”

Democrats plan to move as soon as this week to confirm Mr. Biden’s first appeals court pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit. They have roughly a dozen other nominees winding their way through the approval process, and more than 100 seats on the federal bench are expected to become vacant in the coming months.

But they are starting from a deep hole. When they controlled the Senate under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, used their majority to confirm more than 220 federal judges over four years, including more than 50 to influential appeals court posts and three to the Supreme Court.

The Biden White House moved swiftly to begin naming nominees for many of the most important posts this spring, far earlier than the historic norm, and Mr. Biden’s liberal allies on Capitol Hill have made the approval of those nominees a top priority.