Government Agency

Biden Administration – Federal Courts

Biden Administration

This profile contains Biden Administration judicial nominations to federal courts.

Supreme Court of the United States

Ketanji Brown Jackson is a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. She had previously been serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to which President Biden also nominated her. Before that, she had served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia since 2013, and as vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission since 2010. From 2007 to 2010 she was of counsel at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, from 2005 to 2007 she was an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C., and from 2003 to 2005 she was an assistant special counsel at the United States Sentencing Commission. Earlier in her career, she worked as an attorney at the law firms of Feinberg Rozen, LLP, Goodwin Proctor LLP, and Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer from 1999 to 2000.[1] She is a member of the governing council of the American Law Institute.[2] Jackson was listed on Demand Justice’s Supreme Court Shortlist.[3]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Gustavo Gelpi is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He formerly served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, having been confirmed in 2006, and before that served as a magistrate judge on the district court since 2001. Prior to that, he was an attorney at the law firm of McConnell Valdes, Solicitor General of Puerto Rico from 1999 to 2000, Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Puerto Rico Department of Justice from 1997 to 1999, special counsel to the United States Sentencing Commission in 1996, and an assistant federal public defender from 1993 to 1996.[4]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Eunice C. Lee is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She most recently served as an assistant federal defender at Federal Defenders of New York. Before that, she worked for the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City from 1998 to 2019, being named supervising attorney in 2001. She also taught as an adjunct assistant professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law from 2003 to 2019.[5]

Sarah A.L. Merriam has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has been serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut since 2021, to which President Biden also nominated her. Before that, she served for more than six years as a magistrate judge for the District of Connecticut, and for eight years as an assistant federal defender. She worked on the political campaigns then-Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) from 2006 to 2007, and practiced law with the firm of Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy, LLC. Prior to law school, she worked as political director for the Connecticut Employees Union Independent/SEIU Local 511 labor union.[6]

Alison Nathan is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She had previously been serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York since 2011. Before that, she was special counsel to the Solicitor General of New York from 2010 to 2011, associate White House counsel and special assistant to the president in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2010, a fellow at New York University School of Law from 2008 to 2009, a visiting assistant professor at Fordham University Law School from 2006 to 2008, and an associate at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP from 2002 to 2006. She clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens from 2001 to 2002.[7]

Myrna Perez is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She formerly served as director of the voting rights and elections program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Before that, she was a civil rights fellow at the law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax. She has served as chair of the election law committee of the New York City Bar Association, as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law, as a lecturer at Columbia Law School,[8] and on the board of directors of Sojourners,[9] and of Crossroads Prison Ministries.[10]

Beth Robinson is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She had formerly served as an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011. She served as counsel to then-governor of Vermont Peter Shumlin from 2010 to 2011, and was an attorney at the law firm of Langrock Sperry & Wool from 1993 to 2010, and at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom from 1990 to 1991.[11] Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Vermont in 2009, Robinson held leadership positions at several state-level LGBT advocacy groups, including the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, Vermonters for Civil Unions, and the Vermont Fund for Families.[12]

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Nusrat Jahan Choudhury has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She has served as legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois since 2020.[13] Before that, she served in multiple positions at the national ACLU, including as deputy director of the group’s racial justice program and as a staff attorney in its national security project.[14]

Natasha C. Merle has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She currently serves as deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and previously served as assistant counsel and then senior counsel at the organization from 2016 to 2021. She was a litigation associate and a NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund fellow at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP from 2013 to 2015, an assistant federal public defender from 2011 to 2012, and a staff attorney at the Gulf Region Advocacy Center from 2009 to 2011.[15]

Nina Morrison is a Senate-confirmed nominee to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She formerly served as senior litigation counsel at the Innocence Project, where she had worked since 2002, including serving as executive director from 2002 to 2004. Before that, she was an attorney at the law firm of Emery, Cuti, Brinckerhoff & Abady.[16]

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Dale E. Ho has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He has served as director of the voting rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union since 2013. Before that, he was an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 2009 to 2013, and worked as an attorney at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP.[17] He has also worked as an adjunct clinical professor at New York University School of Law.[18]

Jennifer L. Rochon is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She formerly served as general counsel of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Before that, she was an associate and later partner at the law firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.[19]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Arianna J. Freeman has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She has worked at the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since 2009, and has served as managing attorney at the office’s non-capital habeas unit since 2016. She has served on the board of directors of First Person Arts and the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.[20]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Toby Heytens is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He had previously served as Solicitor General of Virginia since 2018, and as a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law from 2006 to 2007 and from 2010 to 2018. From 2007 to 2010 he served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, and from 2003 to 2006 he practiced at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. Heytens clerked for former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from 2002 to 2003.[21]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Stephanie D. Davis is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She had been serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since 2019, to which she was appointed by President Trump. Before that, she was a magistrate judge for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2016 to 2019, and an assistant United States attorney and later executive assistant United States attorney from 1997 to 2016. She practiced law at the firm of Dickinson, Wright PLLC from 1992 to 1997.[22]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi is a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was most recently a partner at the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, LLP. Before that, she worked as an attorney at the Federal Defender Program in the Northern District of Illinois from 2010 to 2020, and at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP from 2007 to 2010.[23]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Lucy H. Koh is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She had most recently served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California since 2010, and before that as a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge from 2008 to 2010. She worked as an attorney at the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP from 2002 to 2008, and at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati from 2000 to 2002. Before that, she served at the U.S. Department of Justice as special counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs from 1994 to 1996, special assistant to the Deputy Attorney General from 1996 to 1997, and as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1997 to 2000. From 1993 to 1994 she was a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.[24] During law school, she interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.[25]

Jennifer Sung is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She most recently served as a member of the Oregon Employment Relations Board. Before that, she was an attorney first at the law firm of Altshuler Berzon LLP and later at McKanna Bishop Joffee LLP, practicing as a union-side labor lawyer. Earlier in her career she was a Skadden Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and worked as an organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1199 and Local 74.[26]

Sung’s nomination was controversial and she was confirmed by a 50-49 vote in the U.S. Senate. In particular, Republicans had expressed concern over a 2018 letter she had signed in opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, which called him an “intellectually and morally bankrupt ideologue.” At her confirmation hearing, Sung apologized for creating the appearance of bias by signing the letter.[27]

Holly A. Thomas is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She had served as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge since 2018. Before that, she served as deputy director of executive programs at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as a special counsel in the New York Solicitor General’s Office, as a senior attorney in the appellate section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has served on the board of directors of of Lambda Legal and 826LA, and on the executive committee of the Yale Law School Association.[28]

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Hernan D. Vera has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He has served as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge since 2020. Before that, he was a principal at the law firm of Bird Marella, P.C. from 2015 to 2020. He was a directing attorney and later the president and chief executive officer of Public Counsel from 2002 to 2014. Earlier in his career, Vera was an attorney at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP and a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.[29]

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

Tana Lin is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Since 2004, she had been an attorney at the law firm of Keller Rohrback LLP. From 2001 to 2004 she was litigation coordinator at the Michigan Poverty Law Program, from 1999 to 2001 she was a senior trial attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, from 1995 to 1999 she was an attorney in the employment litigation section at the U.S. Department of Justice, and from 1991 to 1995 she was a staff attorney at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service.[30] She has served as president of the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law.[31]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Veronica S. Rossman is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. She had formerly served in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming as an assistant federal public defender from 2010 to 2015, as the appellate division chief from 2015 to 2017, and as senior counsel from 2017 until her nomination. From 2008 to 2010 she was a visiting professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and from 2007 to 2008 she was a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Earlier in her career, she was an attorney at the law firms of Mastbaum and Moffat, and Morrison & Foerster, LLP.[32]

U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

David Herrera Urias is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Since 2008, he had been an attorney at the law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, P.A. From 2004 to 2008 Urias was a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and from 2002 to 2004 he worked as an attorney at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP.[33]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Nancy Gbana Abudu has been nominated to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. She is deputy legal director and director for strategic litigation at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She formerly served as legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida from 2013 to 2018, and as senior staff counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) voting rights project from 2005 to 2013. Before that, she was a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit from 2002 to 2004, and an attorney at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP from 1999 to 2001.[34]

Some of Abudu’s past statements on voting attracted controversy after her nomination. According to The Daily Wire, in an interview given during her time at the ACLU she included photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements as examples of “voter suppression.”[35] Separately, in a June 2020 article, Abudu wrote that “[o]ur current criminal justice system is one of the most inhumane examples of how racial discrimination operates and can ruin people’s lives forever,” and that adding “laws that prohibit people with a criminal conviction from voting” creates “practically the same system as during slavery – Black people who have lost their freedom and cannot vote.”[36]

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Sarah Geraghty is a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. She is senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, and also serves as an adjunct professor at Emory University School of Law and a part-time instructor at Georgia State University College of Law.[37]

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Tiffany Cunningham is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Since 2014, she had been a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP, and was a member of the firm’s executive committee. From 2002 to 2014 she was an associate and later partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.[38]

Leonard Stark is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He had previously been serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware since 2010, and served as chief judge from July 2014 to June 2021. Before that, he was a magistrate judge for the District of Delaware from 2007 to 2010, and an assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2001, he was an associate at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.[39]

 

References

  1. “President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate 11 Judicial Candidates.” The White House. March 30, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/30/president-biden-announces-intent-to-nominate-11-judicial-candidates/ ^
  2. “Council Members.” The American Law Institute. Accessed January 6, 2022. Available at: https://www.ali.org/about-ali/governance/officers-council/list-council-members/ ^
  3. “Demand Justice’s Supreme Court Shortlist.” Demand Justice. Accessed February 25, 2022. Available at: https://demandjustice.org/supreme-court-shortlist/ ^
  4. “President Biden Announces Third Slate of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. May 12, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/05/12/president-biden-announces-third-slate-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  5. “President Biden Announces Third Slate of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. May 12, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/05/12/president-biden-announces-third-slate-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  6. “Sarah Merriam Fact Sheet.” Alliance for Justice. May 20, 2022. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/sarah-merriam-fact-sheet/ ^
  7. “President Biden Names Tenth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. November 17, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/17/president-biden-names-tenth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  8. “Myrna Perez.” Brennan Center for Justice. Accessed January 4, 2022. Available at: https://www.brennancenter.org/about/staff/myrna-perez ^
  9. “Board of Directors.” Sojourners. January 18, 2021 (accessed via WayBack Machine). Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20210118200716/https://sojo.net/board-directors ^
  10. “Leadership.” Crossroads Prison Ministries. Accessed January 4, 2022. Available at: https://cpministries.org/about-us/leadership ^
  11. “President Biden Names Sixth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. August 5, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/05/president-biden-names-sixth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  12. “Beth Robinson Fact Sheet.” Alliance for Justice. September 7, 2021. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/beth-robinson-fact-sheet/ ^
  13. “President Biden Names Thirteenth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. January 19, 2022. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/19/president-biden-names-thirteenth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  14. “Nusrat Jahan Choudhury.” ACLU of Illinois. Accessed February 25, 2022. Available at: https://www.aclu-il.org/en/biographies/nusrat-jahan-choudhury ^
  15. “President Biden Names Thirteenth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. January 19, 2022. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/19/president-biden-names-thirteenth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  16. “President Biden Names Eleventh Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. December 15, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/15/president-biden-names-eleventh-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  17. “President Biden Names Eighth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. September 30, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/30/president-biden-names-eighth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  18. “Dale Ho.” ACLU. Accessed January 4, 2021. Available at: https://www.aclu.org/news/by/dale-ho/ ^
  19. “President Biden Names Eleventh Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. December 15, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/15/president-biden-names-eleventh-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  20. “Arianna J. Freeman.” Alliance for Justice. February 18, 2022. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/arianna-j-freeman/ ^
  21. “President Biden Names Fifth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. June 30, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/30/president-biden-names-fifth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  22. “President Biden Makes Fourteenth Judicial Nominations Announcement.” The White House. February 2, 2022. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/02/02/president-biden-makes-fourteenth-judicial-nominations-announcement/ ^
  23. “President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate 11 Judicial Candidates.” The White House. March 30, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/30/president-biden-announces-intent-to-nominate-11-judicial-candidates/ ^
  24. “President Biden Names Seventh Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. September 8, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/08/president-biden-names-seventh-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  25. “Judge Lucy H. Koh Fact Sheet.” Alliance for Justice. October 1, 2021. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/judge-lucy-h-koh-fact-sheet/ ^
  26. “Jennifer Sung Fact Sheet.” Alliance for Justice. August 18, 2021. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/jennifer-sung-fact-sheet/ ^
  27. Ben Penn. “Union-Side Lawyer Joins Ninth Circuit as Second Biden Judge.” Bloomberg Law. December 15, 2021. Available at: https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/union-side-lawyer-joins-ninth-circuit-as-second-biden-judge ^
  28. “Judge Holly Thomas Fact Sheet.” Alliance for Justice. October 18, 2021. Available at: https://www.afj.org/document/judge-holly-thomas-fact-sheet/ ^
  29. “President Biden Names Seventh Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. September 8, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/08/president-biden-names-seventh-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  30. “President Biden Announces Second Slate of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. April 29, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/29/president-biden-announces-second-slate-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  31. “Tana Lin.” Seattle University School of Law. Accessed January 4, 2022. Available at: https://law.seattleu.edu/faculty/profiles/adjunct/tana-lin ^
  32. “President Biden Announces Third Slate of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. May 12, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/05/12/president-biden-announces-third-slate-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  33. “President Biden Names Seventh Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. September 8, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/08/president-biden-names-seventh-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  34. “President Biden Names Twelfth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. December 23, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/23/president-biden-names-twelfth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
  35. Gabe Kaminsky. “Biden Judicial Nominee Said ‘Proof of Citizenship is ‘Voter Suppression.'” The Daily Wire. January 1, 2022. Available at: https://www.dailywire.com/news/biden-judicial-nominee-said-proof-of-citizenship-is-voter-suppression ^
  36. Nancy Abudu. “On the 57th Anniversary of Medgar Evers’ Assassination, the March for Voting Rights Continues.” Southern Poverty Law Center. June 12, 2020. Available at: https://www.splcenter.org/news/2020/06/12/57th-anniversary-medgar-evers-assassination-march-voting-rights-continues ^
  37. “Sarah Geraghty.” Southern Center for Human Rights. Accessed January 4, 2021. Available at: https://www.schr.org/people/sarah-geraghty/ ^
  38. “President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate 11 Judicial Candidates.” The White House. March 30, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/30/president-biden-announces-intent-to-nominate-11-judicial-candidates/ ^
  39. “President Biden Names Ninth Round of Judicial Nominees.” The White House. November 3, 2021. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/03/president-biden-names-ninth-round-of-judicial-nominees/ ^
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