White House Nominates a Diverse Group of Judicial Nominees for Federal Bench

Upholding a campaign promise to select judges for federal service who don’t have traditional backgrounds, President Biden has announced the nominations of 11 incredibly diverse individuals to serve as federal district or appeals court judges.

Carl Hulse and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times have reported that “Biden’s nominees — led by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — included three African-American women for appeals court vacancies. They also include candidates who, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first federal district judge who is Muslim, the first Asian-American woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit and the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge in Maryland.”

“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Biden said in a statement following the announcement of the nominees. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”

The ongoing push for diversity from the White House for these positions is led in part by the aftereffects of the Trump administration, which confirmed 220 judges over four years — most of whom were white men.

“Biden’s first round of judicial picks was an effort to begin addressing such imbalances while the Senate is under Democratic control,” Hulse and Shear reported. “Where Trump emphasized white male conservatives, Mr. Biden is diversifying not only the ethnic backgrounds of his candidates but their professional ones as well, seeking out nominees with varied legal careers.”

“Advisers to the president said Mr. Biden was deeply concerned that many Americans — including those who took to the streets last summer to protest police killings of Black people — had lost faith in the ability of the judicial system to issue fair rulings in cases that directly affect their lives,” Hulse and Shear added.

“We need the country, and lawyers, to look at the judiciary and see themselves, see the full range of faces and backgrounds,” said Dana Remus, the White House counsel and Mr. Biden’s top legal adviser.

The pool of nominees announced include: 

  • Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a Chicago-based litigator and well-respected federal public defender who would be the only Black woman on the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court if confirmed. 
  • Zahid N. Quraishi, who has served as an assistant U.S. attorney and an Army judge advocate general for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and would be the first Muslim American to serve on the federal bench. 
  • Florence Y. Pan, who has been a Superior Court judge in Washington D.C. since 2009 and would be the first Asian American woman on the D.C. District Court. 
  • Tiffany Cunningham, a patent litigator in Chicago who would become the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Circuit Appeals Court.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.