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

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President Biden announced his first slate of judicial candidates on Tuesday morning, which includes three judges to 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 United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The DC Circuit is considered the second highest court in the country and a powerhouse for the Supreme Court of the United States.

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

Jackson, by the nature of that appointment, would likely climb to the top of any Democratic president’s shortlist for a Supreme Court nomination if upheld. Biden pledged during the campaign to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court.

President Joe Biden, center, switches from Marine One aboard Air Force One, with his 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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President Joe Biden, center, switches from Marine One aboard Air Force One, with his 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 graduate, is currently a judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Biden also announced that Chicago-based Perkins Coie LLP partner Tiffany Cunningham is a candidate for the Federal Tour. She was previously a clerk on the Federal Circuit after graduating from Harvard Law School.

Washington, DC-based Zuckerman Spaeder’s partner Candace Jackson-Akiwumi is Biden’s latest circuit court nomination for this tour. She’s a public defender in the Northern District of Illinois, which means she’s employed by the government to defend people who haven’t been able to afford their own lawyers.

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

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

Biden’s list is varied, which ticks a box of progressives who have pushed the president to diversify federal courts. And the group’s most high-profile nomination – Jackson – was on the progressive justice group Demand Justice’s 2019 list of suggested Supreme Court nominations for Democratic presidential candidates.

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