Senate Confirms Biden’s 200th Judge in Historic Feat for Court Diversity

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s 200th federal judge today, which is more judicial appointments than the past five presidents had at this point in their administrations, according to the Federal Judicial Center.

Biden has also nominated the most diverse federal judges of any president in history. 

“These judges are exceptionally well-qualified. They come from every walk of life, and collectively, they form the most diverse group of judicial appointees ever put forward by a President – 64% are women and 62% are people of color,” Biden said in a statement today.

This is over twice as many women and more than three times as many people of color confirmed under the Trump administration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said today on the Senate floor.

“We’ve confirmed more judges, in other words, who embody the very ideal of America: a place where the rule of law is protected, where the rights of all are honored, and where everyone – everyone – gets a fair shake,” Schumer said.

Also, on the Senate floor today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.), chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, said that Biden has appointed more Black women to the federal circuit courts than all previous presidents combined.

Biden also noted the diversity in the judges’ professional backgrounds, having “worked in every field of law—from labor lawyers fighting for working people to civil rights lawyers fighting to protect the right to vote,” with Schumer adding that it is important that federal judges are “not just partners in big law firms.”

Biden’s most notable appointment over the last four years is U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She made history in 2022 as the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ve made it. We’ve made it – all of us,” Jackson said in a speech in April 2022 shortly after her Senate confirmation.

Trump nominated three justices during his term, including Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush each nominated two and four, respectively.

If Biden doesn’t appoint any more justices, he will be the first president since Gerald Ford in the 1970s to only have one Supreme Court appointment.

The Supreme Court impacts so many aspects of our government and society, but now, its role in protecting or harming democracy has come to the forefront, especially in Trump’s absolute immunity case and South Carolina’s racial gerrymandering case.

During the oral argument on April 25 in Trump’s immunity case, Jackson made clear her commitment to hold the former president accountable for his actions and protect democracy.

“If someone with those kinds of powers, the most powerful person in the world with the greatest amount of authority, could go into office knowing that there would be no potential penalty for committing crimes, I’m trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into…the seat of criminal activity in this country,” Jackson said.

However, federal judges in courts below the nation’s highest court have a large impact on democracy too, handling election and voting rights cases frequently. 

Biden noted in his statement that these judges “have the power to uphold basic rights or to roll them back,” and will hear a variety of important cases, including ones deciding “whether Americans have the freedom to cast their ballots.”

Rakim Brooks, president of the Alliance of Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, commended Durbin, Schumer and the judiciary committee for working hard to ensure that vacancies in federal courts are filled quickly.

“We know how important a robust and complete judicial branch is for upholding the rule of law, resolving disputes fairly, and safeguarding the rights we all deserve,” Brooks said in a statement today.

Also, during a press conference today, multiple senators emphasized how important it was that most of the judges were confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan manner.

“I think you hear a lot about the partisan fighting in Washington for good reason, but despite having senators of vastly different ideological backgrounds on the committee, when we got to the floor, we were always able, for the most part, to pick up support,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said.

Angela Martinez was the 200th Biden judge confirmed with a 66-28 vote today, and 18 Republicans voted in support of her.

As the election approaches in November, Biden and Senate Democrats will continue to appoint as many judges as they can, Durbin said today.

“We celebrate these 200 judges, but we should not stop here. We will continue elevating jurists who are qualified, principled and committed above all to protecting the Constitution,” Durbin said. “The American people deserve nothing less.”

Read Biden’s statement here.

Read Schumer’s statement here.