Vox reports that on Tuesday, President Biden announced his first slate of judicial nominees, signaling a sharp contrast to those of his predecessor Donald Trump’s judicial appointments.
Biden’s list of 11 lawyers and judges, including three nominees to federal appeals courts, include more diversity than Trump’s entire slate saw.
While he was President, Trump reshaped the judiciary, appointing three justices to the Supreme Court and almost as many federal appellate judges in his four years as his predecessor, Barack Obama, did in eight.
In his first slate of appointees, Biden can’t quite match what Trump did, as Vox points out, but it does give insight into how he will approach the judicial system. Biden’s nominees are diverse racially and predominantly female, and all three of his appellate nominees are women of color.
Last year, as a candidate, Biden promised to appoint an African American woman to the Supreme Court, and this is likely the beginning of fulfilling that promise.
If Biden’s nominees are confirmed, he will have almost doubled the number of Black women judges on the circuit courts, and in addition to his three circuit nominees, Biden named eight nominees to federal district courts, including Zahid N. Quraishi, a New Jersey judge who if confirmed, will be the first Muslim federal judge in American history.
Nine of the 11 nominees on Biden’s list are women, and most of them are people of color, clearly signaling that Biden intends to make racial and gender diversity a priority in his approach to judicial appointments.
Biden’s list, while diverse, likely won’t rile up conservative Republicans the same way Trump’s nominees did Democrats, as Vox explains:
“Biden did not name a prominent voting rights attorney to the federal bench. Or a union lawyer. Or a lawyer for Planned Parenthood. Or some other lawyer who is likely to agitate Republicans in the same way that a judge like Barrett concerns Democrats.
That doesn’t mean that such nominations won’t be forthcoming. For the moment, however, Biden appears to be trying to diversify the bench without kicking any political hornets’ nests in the process.”
This coming after a move that signals the agency is continuing to move as far as possible away from the Trump administration, almost every member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) has been fired by Biden Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, according to Fox News.
On Friday, Mayorkas sent a letter obtained by Politico, to the committee informing them that 32 current members’ terms are ended, and that he intends to “reconstitute” the council by developing a new model.
The committee was set up for its unpaid members to use expertise of security issues like counterterrorism and immigration enforcement to help the secretary.
Mayorkas noted that Chairman William Bratton, Vice Chair Karen Tandy, and Chair Emeritus William Webster will remain to help them navigate the council moving forward, but many others, including Trump-era officials like former Deputy DHS Sec. Ken Cuccinelli and former ICE Dir. Thomas Homan, are now off of the committee.
“I am considering how the HSAC can bring the greatest value to the Department and how the expertise, judgment, and counsel of its members can be harnessed most effectively to advance the Department’s mission. I expect to work closely with the HSAC and to rely on its Members to help guide the Department through a period of change.”
The agency said that Mayorkas will conduct a “comprehensive review” to work out how the council can be used to advise the department — and will launch a redesigned HSAC with “diverse membership” representative of the country. It also emphasized that it would be bipartisan.
Former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted his critical thoughts on the move:
“While I respect the right for a DHS Secretary to alter the HSAC to address their needs, dismissing the entire council outright and stopping a lot of important work (that was underway) is not the right approach.”
House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member John Katko, a New York Republican, echoed Wolf’s assessment, adding that it was a sign that the Biden administration “has no intention of upholding a bipartisan, unifying approach to securing our homeland.”
“It’s an absolute shame that Secretary Mayorkas has removed these well-respected homeland security leaders who have dedicated their careers to strengthening our homeland security posture. I would urge the Secretary to take a thoughtful approach as he reconstitutes the HSAC and be mindful of the message he intends to send.”