This excerpt is from a piece that originally ran on December 13, 2022.
“By the end of Trump’s term he had over 200 judicial nominees. And so we know that if we want to get to that number, we definitely have a long way to go,” said Kimberly Humphrey, legal director for federal courts at Alliance for Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group.
In his first two years in office, Biden has prioritized nominating people from underrepresented backgrounds in terms of race, gender and professional experience. Rather than focusing on judicial candidates who have worked at private law firms, Biden has nominated the most people with backgrounds as public defenders. Humphrey commended this effort and noted that Biden could bring even more professional diversity to the federal bench by including more people who have worked in areas like labor law, climate justice and women’s rights.
Beyond looking to match Trump’s number of appointments, Humphrey and Kang expressed urgency about filling prolonged court vacancies, which slow down a particular court’s ability to move through cases. There are 83 vacancies currently across federal courts and 46 pending nominees, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
“That means that you’re not having our citizens get the justice that they need, because of backlogs in courthouses,” Humphrey said. “So I think that’s an important aspect of the push in making sure that we aren’t, you know, allowing things to flow the way that it should. And when we can be focused and keep these vacancies being filled as quickly as possible, then we’re helping all of our communities across the country.”