Biden also announced that he would seek to elevate Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is currently a district-court judge, to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She too has worked as a public defender, and has served as a Supreme Court clerk and later a corporate litigator.
In a statement released this morning, the White House emphasized the speed of its nominations, pointing out that no administration had named as many judicial nominees so early in its first term. “President Biden has had a career-long commitment to the strength of the federal judiciary, and that is reflected in the historically fast pace at which he has moved to fill vacancies on the federal bench,” the statement said.
But confirming the nominees will not necessarily be a painless task, as Democrats control only 50 seats in the Senate. “It’s pretty much the barest majority for them to get any nominations through,” Gramlich said. “Two years from now, if Republicans take back the Senate, it would become much more difficult for Biden.”
For now, the Democrats have one big advantage — courtesy of former Senator Harry Reid. As the Democratic majority leader for part of Obama’s presidency, Reid disallowed the filibuster on judicial appointments (while keeping it for votes on legislation), making it easier for the president to get his appointees confirmed.
When Trump became president, McConnell — who had little appetite for passing major legislation, but was keenly focused on the federal bench — took full advantage of his former foe’s maneuver. Now, with Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York in the cockpit, Democrats are aiming to take back as much ground as they can.