In October 2020, Democratic presidential nominee Joseph Biden famously expressed regret that the fifty-four accomplished, conservative, and young federal appellate court jurists and the 174 comparatively similar district court judges whom former– Republican President Donald Trump and the recent pair of analogous Grand Old Party Senate majorities in the 115th and 116th Congress appointed had left the courts of appeals and the district courts “out of whack.” Lamentable were the numerous detrimental ways in which President Trump and these Republican Senate majorities attempted to undercut the appeals courts and district courts, which actually constitute the tribunals of last resort in practically all cases, because the United States Supreme Court Justices grant certiorari in such a minuscule number of appeals. The nomination and confirmation processes that the Republican White House and upper chamber majorities implemented and the myriad conservative judges whom they approved undermined appellate court and district court diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ideological balance, and experience; the appointments procedures; as well as citizen respect for discharge of the preeminent responsibility to nominate and confirm exceptional jurists, the presidency, the Senate, the judiciary, and the rule of law. Accordingly, President Biden promised that he would comprehensively rectify those stunning complications.
The initial five superb, experienced prospects whom President Biden officially nominated during the month of April 2021 and the Senate members efficaciously investigated, questioned, and considered during the spring and confirmed throughout June demonstrated that the President and the Democratic chamber majority respected these pledges to strongly counter the deleterious consequences imposed by the judicial appointments which the Republican chief executive and the two GOP Senate majorities orchestrated, to improve the court diversity constituents, and to comprehensively revitalize dynamic “regular order” throughout the nomination and confirmation regimes. Therefore, the complications which Trump as well as the Republican Senate majorities in the 115th and 116th Congress caused and how Biden and the Democratic Senate majority commenced remedying or ameliorating the problems deserve consideration, which this piece undertakes.
The first section of the paper evaluates federal judicial selection throughout the administration of former-President Trump and the tenure of the two Grand Old Party Senate majorities during his term in office. The second portion explores how President Biden and the nascent Democratic Senate majority in the 117th Congress have started rectifying the detrimental consequences of the judicial selection practices that Trump and the Republican Senate majorities deployed. Because the segment detects that the Democratic chief executive and the razor-thin chamber majority have begun implementing nomination and confirmation processes that address the difficulties created by the former Republican President and the Senate majorities in the 115th and 116th Congress, the final part affords suggestions for improving the federal judicial selection process in Biden’s presidency, the 117th Senate, and the future.
Carl Tobias, How Biden Began Building Back Better the Federal Bench, 78 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. Online 31 (2021).