Biden puts emphasis on diversity with first judicial nominees

President Joe Biden is making a push for greater diversity in US courts with his first slate of judicial nominees, which includes 11 candidates for top posts who are women or people of colour.

Among Biden’s first judicial nominees, announced on Tuesday morning by the White House, is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for a seat on the powerful US federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, filling the spot vacated by Merrick Garland, the US attorney-general.

Jackson, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, is widely considered to be one of the frontrunners to be the first black woman to be nominated to the highest US court if a vacancy arises during Biden’s term in office.

The nominations unveiled on Tuesday mark Biden’s first stab at countering the wave of conservative judges that were elevated and appointed to top roles by former president Donald Trump, with the approval of the Republican majority in the Senate led by Mitch McConnell. Three out of nine of the sitting US Supreme Court justices, including Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, were picked by Trump.

In a statement, the White House said the 11 appointments made by Biden on Tuesday included “the first Muslim American federal judge in US history, the first AAPI woman to ever serve on the US District Court for the District of DC, and the first woman of colour to ever serve as a federal judge for the District of Maryland”.

“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,” Biden said.

Aside from Jackson, Tiffany Cunningham was nominated for a seat on the bench of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi was chosen to be a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit — two other influential appeals court posts.

Florence Pan was nominated for the district court in Washington DC, while Zahid Quraishi was tapped for the federal district court in New Jersey.

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