Women dominate Biden's first slate of judicial nominees

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US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images, AFP

President Joe Biden released his first slate of 11 federal judicial nominations on Tuesday, nine of them women of diverse backgrounds including several Black candidates and an Asian American.

"This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession," Biden said in a statement that emphasised their "broad diversity of background experience and perspective".

The nominees, which include nine women, must be confirmed by the US Senate.

The three Black women nominated for federal circuit court vacancies are Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Tiffany Cunningham for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi for the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Jackson is widely expected to be one of Biden's top picks if a seat opens on the US Supreme Court.

Zahid N. Quraishi, a New Jersey magistrate judge, would be the nation’s first Muslim American to serve on a federal district court.

Judge Florence Pan would be the first Asian-American judge to serve on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the White House said in a statement.

The nominees also include Judge Deborah Boardman for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Boardman is described in a Federal Bar Association newsletter as being of Palestinian descent on her mother's side.

Regina Rodriguez, the nominee for the US District Court for the District of Colorado is Hispanic, while Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta, nominated for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, is of South Asian descent.

Biden's slate was cheered by the NAACP Legal Defence and Education Fund as "an exciting and important beginning".

"This list powerfully affirms that nominees who are racially diverse and whose professional background reflects a broad range of practice are available to serve on the federal bench," Sherrilyn Ifill, the group's president, said in a statement.

With 100 current and future vacancies to fill, the appointments were critical in ensuring "qualified, fair-minded and diverse" judges, the American Constitution Society said.

"The courts should look like the people they represent and serve," it said. "Numerous district courts across the country have still never had a judge who is a person of color or a woman. This first slate sets the standard that diversity should be prioritized when picking judicial candidates."

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