President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has sent a letter to Democratic senators seeking their recommendations for district court vacancies, a transition official confirmed to CNN.
The letter, penned by incoming White House counsel Dana Remus, asks senators to provide diverse names based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, veteran status and disability.
Remus requested that all recommendations be sent “as soon as possible and not later than January 19, 2020,” indicating that Biden intends to prioritize filling vacant seats upon assuming office.
“Joe Biden proudly championed the historic confirmations of Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, and reshaped the Senate Judiciary Committee to reflect the diversity and breadth of America,” transition spokesman Jamal Brown said in a statement.
“As president, he will nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court, and appoint judges who share his commitment to the rule of law, and upholding individual civil rights and civil liberties.”
The letter, which was first reported by HuffPost, underscores the import role court vacancies will play in Biden’s early administration after President Donald Trump — with the help of a determined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — significantly reshaped the judiciary during his time in office.
In all, Trump confirmed more than 200 judicial nominees, enough to cement a conservative tilt in the federal judiciary for decades to come.
By comparison, former President Barack Obama successfully appointed 334 federal judges during his two terms, according to the US courts. Former President George W. Bush successfully appointed 340 judges during his eight years in office, while former President Bill Clinton put 387 judges on the bench during his two terms.
Still, Biden’s ability to confirm a wave of new judges hinges largely on the results of the Georgia Senate runoff elections on January 5.
If either of the incumbent Republicans, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, holds onto their seats, their party will maintain its Senate majority.
If Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock both prevail, however, Democrats would gain control of the Senate thanks to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate.
“Send me these two men,” Biden said during a rally for the two Democratic candidates earlier this month, “and we will control the Senate and change the lives of people in Georgia.”