WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden reached another milestone as the Democratic-led Senate confirmed the nomination of its 150th federal judge.
Consecutive votes Tuesday named Kenly Kiya Kato and Julia Kobick district court judges in California and Massachusetts, respectively, totaling 113 district court judges chosen by Biden.
He also secured the lifetime appointments of 36 appeals court judges – who have the final say on most questions of federal law – and one Supreme Court justice: Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it “a very important day in the Senate.”
“Our 150th judge confirmed under President Biden,” he told reporters. “It’s really an excellent record: 150 judges who brought integrity and impartiality to the judiciary; 150 judges who have expanded the diversity and dynamism of our courts; 150 judges who restore Americans’ confidence in the federal justice system.”
Schumer added that Kobick, who was confirmed Tuesday evening by a 52-46 vote, marks “our 100th female judge” confirmed by the Senate in the Biden era.
“We’re making the bench more like America. This has never been the case,” he said. “And we are taking giant steps, more than any other Senate, to get there.”
Reshaping the courts with more public defenders and greater diversity has been a big priority for Biden and Schumer. This comes after four years in which former President Donald Trump and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., led 234 federal judges — most of them young, conservative and ready to serve for decades — including three justices of the Supreme Court which tipped the scales. court on the right and paved the way for last year’s landmark decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
“The confirmation of 150 federal judges for life is a major accomplishment, but it is also just the beginning,” White House counsel Ed Siskel and other senior officials said Tuesday. “The President is committed to filling every judicial vacancy, and the Administration will continue to work closely with Senators of both parties to identify, nominate and confirm judges from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, eminently qualified and loyal to Right wing state. »
Democrats pushed through many judges in Biden’s first two years, despite the 50-50 split in the Senate, where the filibuster was eliminated for judicial nominations, which now require a simple majority to be confirmed. The cause gained momentum last fall when Democrats defied odds in the midterm elections and expanded their majority by one seat.
Biden’s proposed candidates have attracted broad opposition from Republicans. But some of them have obtained bipartisan support from some Republican senators.
This year, judicial nominations have happened in fits and starts.
A months-long absence of former Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, left Democrats unable to process nominations without Republican support on the Judiciary Committee, where she held a decisive seat for her party’s majority. She eventually returned but died at age 90 in late September. Shortly after, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Senator Laphonza Butler to temporarily fill his seat and the Senate voted unanimously to allow her to take Feinstein’s place on the Judiciary Committee.
Schumer said earlier this year that he hoped to surpass Trump’s total by the end of Biden’s first term. With the 150th justice, he said Tuesday, “we are only halfway there.”
“We’re not done,” he said.