WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2023 – This week, the Senate is confirming several of President Biden’s nominees to be federal judges and has officially crossed the milestone of 150 confirmed judges. That includes 100 women, 98 people of color, 35 former public defenders, and 23 former civil rights lawyers who now sit on the federal bench.
Adding this level of diversity to the nation’s courts is unprecedented. Unfortunately, however, there is far more to be done, with nearly 100 vacancies still waiting to be filled — most of which do not yet have nominees. And the Biden administration is falling further behind the Trump administration, which had completed 187 confirmations by the end of its third year and 234 in total. The administration and Senate Majority Leader Schumer need to work extra hard before the holidays to fill that gap.
The slow-down appears to be directly related to Republican abuse of the blue slip tradition, which gives Republican home-state senators a veto of district court nominees. Negotiating with them is already resulting in less diverse nominees and a slower rate of nominations — and may ultimately leave many seats completely empty. AFJ research shows that Republican senators take advantage of their blue slip privileges far more than Democratic senators do and that discrepancy is now playing out in real time.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:
“It cannot be said enough how amazing an impact the Biden administration and its Senate partners have already made on our courts. The nation deserves a justice system that resembles and understands the experiences of the people it serves. We are now closer to realizing that dream than ever before.
“The best way for President Biden and Senate Democrats to celebrate is to keep going! We see examples every week of how much damage Trump judges are doing to the rights we hold dear. So it is essential that we surpass the Trump administration’s impact on the courts. There must be a plan to overcome the hurdle of blue slips and fill every vacancy. The real celebrations start when Biden and Senate Democrats reach 235.”