According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, President Joe Biden is about to start leaving his imprint on federal courts by making appointments that could undo some of the damage Donald Trump has done to the judiciary with the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) by appointing unqualified judges.
While Biden doesn't have as many initial vacancies to fill compared to his predecessor's first year -- 68 to Trump's 116 in 2017 -- he has been given an assist by more than a handful of existing judges who held off retiring or took "senior status," which made it possible for him to make more appointments.
According to the report, "Mr. Biden's options have been bolstered by about 18 judges—10 appointed by Democrats, eight by Republicans—who have cleared the way for Mr. Biden to appoint a successor by taking senior status since he was sworn in as president on Jan. 20. That compares with 10 during the first two months of President Trump's term. Senior judges have a lighter workload and fewer responsibilities."
As the report notes, converting to senior status lessens a judge's caseload, which then requires the appointment of more judges.
According to Demand Justice executive director Brian Fallon, some of the judges held off making status changes until Donald Trump was out of office.
"We have seen a lot of swiftness on the part of federal judges that were clearly waiting out Trump to take senior status or retire," he claimed before adding that Biden now "has an immediate opportunity right off the bat to make dozens of appointments in the first year."
At the top of the list will be filling the opening left by Merrick Garland who stepped down from the bench to become Biden's attorney general, with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, of Washington, D.C.'s U.S. District Court the top contender to take his spot on the highly influential Washington appeals court -- which is seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.
More seats could open for Biden in the near future, according to Marin K. Levy of Duke Law School, who pointed out that more than 60 judges became in December to request senior status based on their age and years of service.
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