Judicial Confirmation Season Engages at Full Speed

Press Release


Press Contact


Zack Ford
zack.ford@afj.org
202-464-7370

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2023 – Today was an exciting day for the future of our courts, highlighting the promise this Senate can deliver. 

First, this morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee, now with a Democratic majority, advanced all the remaining 24 judicial nominees who have previously had hearings. This includes individuals who, due to obstruction from Republican senators on the previously evenly-split committee, have been waiting over a year for their nominations to move forward. Alliance for Justice highlighted several of these outstanding nominees in its Confirmations Overdue campaign. Bios for many of these standout nominees are below. 

There are now dozens of nominees awaiting a final confirmation vote, and a few hours after the committee met, the full Senate took its first such vote of the session. Judge DeAndrea Benjamin has been confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, bringing nearly two decades of experience serving as a judge. She began serving on the City of Columbia’s Municipal Court in 2004, and she has served on South Carolina’s Fifth Judicial Circuit since 2011. Prior to her time as a judge, she had experience prosecuting cases that involved violence against women and children and representing employees in racial discrimination cases against their employers. Judge Benjamin becomes the second woman of color to serve on the Fourth Circuit. 

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement: 

“Today’s markup speaks to the power of a single vote. To see nominees like Dale Ho and Nancy Abudu finally advance toward the final confirmations they so deserve is so exhilarating. With nominees like these, we can rebuild our courts with the professional and demographic diversity they need to properly administer justice and uphold equal rights for all.  

“The momentum cannot end here. Like Judge Benjamin, these nominees deserve to receive their final confirmation votes as quickly as possible, and then we need to resume processing nominees for the remaining vacancies. We are still significantly lacking in judges with backgrounds in economic justice — those who’ve advocated for workers and consumers. We likewise know there are brilliant legal minds who identify as Latinx, LGBTQ+, or having a disability that have not been given the opportunity to serve as judges. Today should not just be a celebration that Republican obstruction has been overcome, but a watershed moment for the judicial nominees yet to come. It’s what our courts deserve.”

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Nancy G. Abudu, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, has shown a relentless commitment to fighting for fairness for all. She is an experienced civil rights attorney and a leading voting rights expert. She built her career at both the ACLU and more recently at the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she spearheaded the creation of the Center’s Voting Rights Practice Group and supervised litigation in both the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits. She would be the first Black woman to serve on the Eleventh Circuit. She would also be just the second woman of color to ever serve on the Eleventh Circuit, and only the third Black judge, as well as the first person of color from the state of Georgia.    

Rachel S. Bloomekatz, nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, brings extensive experience in labor and economic justice law, advocating for workers and consumers, as well as handling cases defending voting rights, gun safety, and the environment. As part of her pro bono practice, she also represented indigent women and children seeking asylum. She previously clerked for Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and has taught courses as an Adjunct Professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. 

Judge Todd E. Edelman, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, has served on the Superior Court of D.C. since 2010, currently serving as Deputy Presiding Judge of its Civil Division. Edelman also brings experience as a public defender, a clinical law professor, and a labor attorney. 

Judge Gordon Gallagher, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, has been serving as a part-time federal Magistrate Judge since 2012. His ongoing legal practice has focused on criminal defense work, including as an alternate defense counsel for public defenders. As a judge, he has also presided over a significant number of cases related to tribal law.   

Dale Ho, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, has an extensive record litigating on behalf of voting rights through his work at the ACLU. He notably led the legal fight at the Supreme Court to block the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question from the census. Ho’s qualifications are unmatched, and he would be the only man from the AAPI community to serve on the Southern District of New York. 

Judge Myong Joun, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, has serve as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court since 2014, where he has presided over approximately 140 trials. Not only does Judge Joun bring rare experience as a veteran to the bench, but he has also dedicated his career to criminal defense and civil rights. 

Natasha Merle, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, is a civil rights champion who has dedicated the majority of her legal career to public interest law and public defense, having served as the Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and as an assistant federal public defender. Judges with such civil rights backgrounds remain severely underrepresented on our courts, making Merle a significant and historic nominee. 

Casey Pitts, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, has spent most of his career litigating complex labor law cases. He has represented workers, international and local labor unions, consumers, government entities, and public interest organizations. If confirmed, Mr. Pitts would be the only openly LGBTQ+ judge actively serving in the Northern District of California. 

Julie Rikelman, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, has spent her career fighting for civil and human rights, including serving as Litigation Director for the Center for Reproductive Rights for the past decade. She would be the first Jewish woman and first immigrant woman to serve on the First Circuit. 

Arun Subramanian, nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, has extensive legal experience as both a clerk and partner at Susman Godfrey LLP, where he chairs the firm’s pro bono committee. If confirmed, Mr. Subramanian will be the first South Asian judge in the Southern District of New York.