Good morning! ☕️

It's that time of year again... to look back on what a president has done to reshape our nation's courts.

Biden has done a lot.…
For starters, in his first year in office, Biden has confirmed more people to lifetime seats on federal courts than any president in decades.
Biden has confirmed 40 *lifetime* federal judges this year.

That breaks down to 11 appeals court judges and 29 district court judges.

For some context, Trump had confirmed a total of 18 by this point.
Here's another way of looking at it.

Total # of confirmed US appeals court + district court judges in first year in office (all lifetime posts):

Biden: 40
Trump: 18
Obama: 12
GWB: 28
Clinton: 27
GHWB: 15
Reagan: 40
Carter: 31
More than sheer numbers, though, the diversity of Biden’s nominees is a *huge* departure from the prototypical white, male corporate lawyers almost always tapped for lifetime federal judgeships.
Instead of just corporate lawyers and prosecutors, Biden's judges include public defenders, voting rights lawyers + union organizers.

Instead of just white guys, Biden's judges include Native American women, Black women, Korean Americans, LGBTQ folks + Muslim Americans.
Of Biden's 40 judges confirmed:

- 32 are women
- 27 are people of color
- 21 are women of color
- 27 have professionally diverse backgrounds.

Fifteen are former public defenders.…
Why does this matter?

Diversity of judges is “critical” because it brings different perspectives into courtrooms + constricts biases relating to gender and ethnicity that can undermine justice, says Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor.
It also improves confidence in the courts when judges reflect the people they serve, says Tobias.

For example, it is vital to have Native American judges, esp in Indian Country and the West, where federal courts substantially affect the lives of so many Native Americans.
There have only ever been six Native Americans who have been federal judges in the 230-year history of the U.S. courts. Thousands of judges in that time.

Three of those six are Biden nominees.…
The White House and Schumer have been flying through judicial confirmations for a couple of reasons.

They want to offset the massive number of conservative and ideological judges that Trump confirmed.

They also know they may not be able to do this for long.
Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, and they could lose it in Nov. 2022.

If Republicans win back the Senate, based on their obstruction of Obama’s court picks when they controlled the Senate, there’s no reason to believe they'd treat Biden's picks any different.
The looming questions for Biden are 1) how much is his White House willing to work with/wait for Republican senators to agree on judicial nominees, and 2) how aggressive is Biden prepared to be in the event that GOPers won’t work with him.
To date, all of Biden's confirmed judges are from states with two Democratic senators.

At some point, he'll need to confirm judges in states with two GOP senators. Does he let them drag out and stall the process like they did with Obama? Or does he plow ahead without them?
John Collins Jr., a GWU law professor, says plow the hell ahead.

“Acting as though there needs to be (or will ever be) agreement between the White House and [Republican] senators like Roger Marshall or John Kennedy on judicial nominees is a waste of everyone’s time."
Collins also reminds of the possibility of a SCOTUS seat opening next year.

"The White House and Senate should operate as though they’re going to have a confirmation battle over the summer and fill as many seats ahead of time as possible.”…

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More from @jbendery

21 Dec
Well look at that. A column in today's Concord Monitor saying it's time to let Leonard Peltier go home.…
DOJ "issued a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic authorizing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to release elderly inmates and those with underlying health conditions from federal prison. Peltier’s sentence was life, with parole. He deserves this consideration."
.@SenatorLeahy recently told me he thinks it's time to release Leonard Peltier, too.

Wonder if New Hampshire's senators will catch this column in their home-state paper.

cc: @SenatorShaheen, @SenatorHassan
Read 4 tweets
20 Dec
If past is precedent, I bet Manchin comes around on some version of Build Back Better. Just throwing down this marker here.

He loves attention. And then he caves.

Also a bill is never really dead around here. And this is *the* bill that the WH/Dem leadership def wants done.
Machin said, "I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation."

"This piece of legislation" could always be changed here and there to become another piece of legislation that is still Build Back Better.
Maybe I'm wrong!

But I feel like I've seen this before. With him, and generally with holdouts on big bills.
Read 4 tweets
15 Dec
Lot of behind-the-scenes activity happening this week on the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.

At long last, a bipartisan Senate VAWA bill was supposed to be introduced today. But numerous people tell me it's now been stalled until early next year.
Angelina Jolie was on Capitol Hill yesterday lobbying Republican senators to support the new bipartisan VAWA plan. Portman and Graham among them.

Dems need 10 GOPers to support a VAWA bill in order to pass it. Really looks/looked like this bipartisan plan was gaining stream.
The last time Congress reauthorized VAWA was 2013.

Its authorization expired 2 years ago.

The House has passed bills to reauthorize it, but it keeps going down in the Senate, where Republicans won't support the House-passed bill or Senate Dems' bill. Or their own bill!
Read 13 tweets
14 Dec
Biden chalked up another historic judicial confirmation last night with relatively little fanfare.

The Senate confirmed Lucy Koh to a lifetime seat on a U.S. appeals court, making her the first Korean American woman to be a federal appeals court judge.…
Every Republican present voted against confirming Koh.

Every Democrat voted for her.
I crunched some stats to show the significance of Koh’s presence on the federal bench.

There have been a total of 806 federal appeals court judges since the current system of U.S. appeals courts was formed in 1891.

Koh is the only Korean American woman.…
Read 9 tweets
13 Dec
Catching up on a Senate hearing from last week relating to the Violence Against Women Act and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) actually in here urging restoring people's right to have guns who have been convicted of "misdemeanor offenses," aka domestic violence.
"Should a misdemeanor stand as the line crossed for an individual to lose a constitutional right?" asks Daines.

He's talking about Dem efforts to include the "boyfriend loophole" in the next VAWA bill. That would prevent convicted stalkers + abusers from buying or owning guns.
"We don't need more infringements on the right to keep and bear arms," says Daines. "We need to restore it."

He is saying this in a hearing specifically focused on the horrific levels of violence faced by Native American women.
Read 5 tweets
13 Dec
Biden admin just took another step to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has launched a new website focused on solving cases. Puts attn on unresolved cases + invites public to help law enforcement.
The new site also invites people to submit tips to help investigators solve these crimes.

For some tips, the Bureau of Indian Affairs offers rewards up to $5,000.…
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has made it a priority to focus govt resources on addressing the appalling levels of violence faced by Native American women.

A little background:…
Read 4 tweets

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