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Biden Passes 200th Judicial Confirmation Milestone as Election Looms

  • President Joe Biden officially passed the 200th judicial confirmation milestone, surpassing Trump’s pace.

President Joe Biden completed a milestone: his 200th appointment to the federal judiciary on Wednesday. This comes after the U.S. Senate confirmed two more of his nominees, officially exceeding his Republican opponent’s pace as the clock keeps on ticking toward their November 5 election rematch.

Reaching this number at this point in his presidency stands as proof, according to Biden’s allies, that he was able to achieve a goal that other Democrats fretted might be out of reach, and that is to match Trump’s tally of 234 judges appointed to life-tenured positions on the federal bench in only four years of office.

Challenges in confirming judicial nominees in the Senate, where there’s currently a slim 51-49 Democratic majority, left Biden a bit behind Trump’s pace at the beginning of the year. As a matter of fact, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee in charge of reviewing such nominations, had previously called reaching the 200 mark a year-end goal.

Instead, Biden managed to reach the 200 milestone on Wednesday when the Senate voted 66-28 to confirm U.S. Magistrate Judge Angela Martinez as a federal district court judge in Arizona, then hit 201 when the chamber announced 50-44 to confirm California state court Dena Coggins as a federal district judge.

Joe Biden
Photo by Luca Perra from Shutterstock

Biden called this milestone an “effort to protect the freedoms and liberties of all Americans,” pledging to nominate more judges. He also said that there’s much more work to do. One of the ways in which Biden managed to surpass Trump’s pace has been to cut deals with some Republican senators to fill vacancies at the trial court level in their own home states.

This basically means Biden went with compromise and moderate nominees rather than the judges he might have preferred. Trump, with the Senate then controlled by Republicans, was the one to appoint the second-highest number of judges on record in a single term in office, after Jimmy Carter. Biden is getting close to Trump’s tally, even if less than half as many vacancies were filled when he took office.

Beyond the numbers

Trump managed to move the federal judiciary rightward, which also includes giving the U.S. Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, up from an evenly split 4-4 when he took office. Trump named three conservative justices to the top U.S. judicial body: Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Amy Coney Barrett.

Since then, the Supreme Court has delivered rulings cheered by conservatives, including overturning abortion rights, widening gun rights, and limiting the power of U.S. regulatory agencies.

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