President Joe Biden has now seen more of his nominees for lifetime judicial seats confirmed than any other president across several recent decades had by this point in their tenures. As of this past Thursday, when the Senate confirmed Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, the total number of Biden’s picks for lifetime judicial seats that had been confirmed stood at seven. By a corresponding point in Donald Trump’s presidency, merely two of his picks for lifetime judicial seats had been confirmed, one of whom was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The last president who had as many lifetime judicial nominees confirmed by this point in their presidency was Richard Nixon in 1969. On Thursday in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) commented as follows:
‘For all the focus that the Republican leader put on judges during the previous administration, the Senate only confirmed one ― one ― district or circuit judge before July 4 in the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency… By the end of today, the Senate will have confirmed more judges this week than in all [the first] six months of Donald Trump’s first year in office. In fact, with the confirmations this week, the Senate will have confirmed more district and circuit court judges to the federal bench in the first six months of President Biden’s first year than any other administration in 50 years… We’ve done it with judges who break the federal mold… They make me proud that we are constantly expanding who in America can get to the bench.’
As explained by HuffPost, Biden’s judicial “nominees so far include public defenders, civil rights lawyers, voting rights lawyers and historic firsts with Native American and Muslim American picks.” In contrast, Trump frequently nominated white, male judges, despite the fact that the population of the United States obviously includes a lot of groups other than white males.
Across his term, 231 of Trump’s picks for lifetime spots on the judiciary (not including U.S. Supreme Court justices) were confirmed by the Senate — but that number is lower than the total presidential nominees for the judiciary who were confirmed in the eras of former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Thus, Trump’s relative success with getting his judicial picks confirmed is certainly not insurmountable. Nominees for lifetime spots on the federal judiciary are no longer subject to the Senate’s filibuster rules, which ordinarily demand the agreement of 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most matters. Thus, confirmations have the opportunity to proceed even more smoothly.