April 29, 2021

What They Are Saying: President Biden's First Judicial Nominees Would Bring Vital Demographic and Professional Diversity

These nominees deserve swift confirmation following strong Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

WASHINGTON – In the first Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Biden’s judicial nominations, the five Circuit and District Court nominees demonstrated competence, integrity, and a clear commitment to an evenhanded approach to the administration of justice.

The nominees who appeared this week include Ketanji Brown Jackson, to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit; Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit; Julien Xavier Neals, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey; Zahid N. Quraishi, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey; and Regina M. Rodriguez, to be United States District Judge for the District of Colorado.

Here’s what they’re saying:

“Dozens of former Supreme Court clerks, Justice Department officials and law professors are throwing their support behind President Joe Biden's highest-profile judicial nominee to date as the Senate Judiciary Committee gets set to consider his first batch of selections for the federal courts. The endorsements show a range of support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden's selection for the influential US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.” – CNN | LINK

“Before becoming a judge, [Ketanji Brown] Jackson served on the commission that shapes federal sentencing policies. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has led efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system and lengthy mandatory sentences, praised Jackson’s work on the panel.” – Washington Post | LINK

“Some well-known lawyers in the region are backing Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Ahead of her confirmation hearing scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, two letters signed by more than 200 lawyers — including four former U.S. attorneys for the Northern District of Illinois — were sent on her behalf.” – Chicago Tribune | LINK

“Both [Ketanji Brown Jackson and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi] fit the model of new judges Biden has talked about to bring more diversity in terms of both race and professional backgrounds to a federal bench grown top-heavy with prosecutors trained in punitive justice and partners from big law firms whose world view doesn’t see past corporate America. And their qualifications cannot be assailed—at least not fairly.” – Daily Beast | LINK

“A federal public defender and a long-term resident of Chicago’s South Side, Candace [Jackson-Akiwumi] is mindful and deliberative in applying her skills as a lawyer to facilitate fair decisions, engage in open dialogue, and positively impact those in underserved communities. Additionally, she displays great analytical and communication skills, an effortless rapport with her peers, and a profound respect and enthusiasm for human dignity and community development.” – Karen Freeman-Wilson, President and CEO, Chicago Urban League | LINK

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi showed us today why they are such outstanding nominees for our federal appellate courts. Both have served as public defenders and spoke eloquently about how that experience informs their views of the justice system. Their dedication to the even-handed administration of justice and the depth of their experience, integrity and intellect were on full display today.” – People For the American Way | LINK

“These nominees are an important step towards fixing our judiciary and creating more equal justice, especially after the ways in which the judiciary was reshaped over the last few years. They reflect and represent the incredible diversity of our country.” – Lena Zwarensteyn, Senior Director, Fair Courts Campaign, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights | LINK

“Evidence shows that diverse groups of decision-makers reach better-justified decisions. The federal bench has for years been overwhelmingly white and male, with professional backgrounds mostly limited to corporate or prosecutorial experience. By contrast, not only are these candidates demographically diverse, but they come from a diverse set of professional experiences.” – Maya Sen, Political Scientist and Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School | LINK

“For four years, President Trump and Senate Republicans stacked the court with unqualified nominees with egregiously conservative records who were mostly white men. With his first slate of judicial nominees, President Biden has already modeled, with dramatic contrast, a commitment to adding demographic and professional diversity to our courts… It’s time to celebrate adding true diversity to our judicial system and ensure that everyone who interacts with it has their fair day in court.” – Nan Aron, Founder and President, Alliance For Justice | LINK

“If confirmed, Candace Jackson-Akiwumi would be the third appeals court judge to have spent the majority of her career as a public defender, the first-ever former federal defender on the Seventh Circuit, and the only Black woman on the Seventh Circuit — currently an all-white court.” – National Council of Jewish Women | LINK

Julien Neals has been an active member of the NJSBA's Commission on Racial Equity in the Law, which is studying the legal system to identify methods to address root causes of inequities in the profession and the law, and is a frequent speaker at educational programs. He has exemplary qualifications and extraordinary accomplishments that will be an asset to the federal bench and to the citizens of New Jersey.” – New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) | LINK

“[Julien Xavier Neals and Zahid Quraishi] represent the best of New Jersey. Both reflect our state’s proud and uniquely rich diversity and both demonstrate a steadfast commitment to equal justice under law.” – Senator Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey | LINK

Regina Rodriguez comes to this committee with broad support in my state. We’ve received a flood of letters on her behalf. All of them testify to her character, hard work, and commitment to justice and the rule of law.” – Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado | LINK

“Given her extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants, Regina Rodriguez understands the importance of applying the law even-handedly, based always on the facts.” – Senator John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado | LINK

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