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Taking the courts seriously

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Although things improved substantially in his second term, the Obama administration and some key Democratic senators did not prioritize filling federal court vacancies. This is another lesson learned — Biden and the post-Leahy Dem Judiciary Committee have confirmed Article III judges at a higher rate than Trump and McConnell, even though the latter had larger majorities and few priorities other than confirming federal judges:

Democrats fell just short of an ambitious goal of confirming 100 new federal judges as time ran out on the 117th Congress, but they are optimistic they can continue to reshape the courts over the final two years of President Biden’s term.

The Senate’s top two Democrats say their ability to outpace the concerted Republican judicial push of President Donald J. Trump’s first two years, with a total of 97 judges seated, was especially noteworthy considering they did it with a 50-50 Senate, an evenly divided Judiciary Committee and little cooperation from most Republicans.

And the personal and professional backgrounds of the judges they confirmed were markedly different from the past. The Senate named scores of women and people of color to the courts, many with specialties in defense and civil rights work as opposed to the corporate law partners and prosecutors who were the norm in previous administrations of both parties.

“It’s remarkable to think that an 11-11 committee, with the Republicans we have on that committee, was able to achieve this,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat who, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, led the judicial push.

More on the diversity of Biden’s nominees here.

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