The announcement, which marked Biden’s fifth wave of judicial nominees, includes his intent to nominate two circuit court selections and comes as Democrats are pressing to quickly fill openings across the federal judiciary with their slim majority in the US Senate.
It’s a central priority for Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who has already shepherded seven judicial nominees through to confirmation, including two high-profile circuit court selections in recent weeks.
That number is notable for its historical context: It puts Biden on the fastest pace for judicial confirmations in a first presidential term in more than 50 years. The last president to have seven confirmations by this point was Richard Nixon in 1969, according to a White House official.
The speed of the effort – and the focus Biden’s team has placed on quickly identifying, naming and sending nominees to Capitol Hill – comes as Democrats both inside and outside of government have placed a new emphasis on the issue in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s sweeping effort to confirm more than 230 federal judges during his time in office.
Trump’s success marked a cornerstone achievement for then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and elevated the issue among Democrats, who saw the balance of courts from the Supreme Court down reshaped before Trump’s 2020 election defeat.
Biden plans to nominate Toby Heytens, the solicitor general for the Commonwealth of Virginia, to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and Jennifer Sung, a member of the Oregon Employment Relations Board, to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The group follows what the White House has established could amount to Biden’s model for his early nominees – diverse in background and in professional experience.
Biden’s 32 federal judicial nominees to this point have included selections from the ranks of public defenders, civil rights attorneys and labor lawyers, as well as individuals who would expand the number of Black and Native American judges and the first Muslim American nominee to serve as a district judge.
Sung, a labor lawyer and former union organizer, would mark the first judge of Asian American Pacific Islander descent from Oregon to serve on the 9th Circuit if confirmed by the Senate.
Biden will announce his intent to nominate four individuals for district court slots, including Patricia Tolliver Gates, an assistant US attorney who would become the second woman of color on the federal bench in Virginia.
Biden will also announce his intent to nominate Jane Beckering, a Michigan Court of Appeals judge, to the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan; Shalina Kumar, the chief judge on the Oakland County 6th Circuit Court, to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; and Michael Nachmanoff, US magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Armando Bonilla, the vice president of ethics and investigations at Capitol One, who Biden plans to nominate to the US Court of Federal Claims, would mark the first Hispanic judge on the court if confirmed.
Biden will also announce his intent to nominate Carolyn Lerner, the chief circuit mediator for the US Courts of the DC Circuit, to the US Court of Federal Claims.