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Biden announces 11 judicial nominees to federal bench, including progressive favorite for SCOTUS

President Biden on Tuesday morning announced his first slate of judicial nominees, which includes three judges to the powerful federal courts of appeals. 

Biden’s list of 11 nominees is headlined by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would replace Attorney General Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit is considered the second-highest court in the land and a feeder bench to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Previous D.C. Circuit judges who were elevated to the Supreme Court include Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as late Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.

Jackson, by nature of this appointment, would likely shoot to the top of any Democratic president’s shortlist for a Supreme Court nomination if she is confirmed. Biden pledged during the campaign to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden, center, walks from Marine One to board Air Force One, with son Hunter Biden, left, as he carries his son Beau, Friday, March 26, 2021, at Andrews Air Force Base. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Jackson, a Harvard Law grad, is currently a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

Biden also announced Tiffany Cunningham, a partner at Chicago-based Perkins Coie LLP, as a nominee to the Federal Circuit. She previously clerked on the Federal Circuit after graduating Harvard Law. 

Washington, D.C.-based partner at Zuckerman Spaeder, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, is Biden’s final circuit court appointment in this round. She is a public defender in the Northern District of Illinois, meaning she is employed by the government to defend individuals who were unable to pay for their own lawyers.

Jackson-Akiwumi is a former clerk from the Northern District of Illinois and the Fourth Circuit. She went to Princeton for undergrad and Yale for her law degree. 

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Biden’s other nominees are Judge Deborah Boardman for the District of Maryland; Judge Lydia Griggsby for the District of Maryland; Julien Neals for the District of New Jersey; Florence Y. Pan for the D.C. District Court; Judge Zahid N. Quraishi for the District of New Jersey; Regina Rodriguez for the District of Colorado; Margaret Strickland for the District of New Mexico; and Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta for the D.C. Superior Court. 

Biden’s list is diverse, which checks a box of progressives who have been pushing the president to diversify the federal courts. And the most high-profile appointment in the group ‒ Jackson ‒ was on progressive judicial group Demand Justice’s 2019 list of suggested Supreme Court appointments for Democratic presidential candidates.

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