As Biden Judicial Confirmations Slow, Senate Gains Ground on Red-State Judges


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President Biden and Senate Democrats have fallen behind the rapid pace set by Republicans in shaping the federal courts during the Trump era, but they have made fresh headway in advancing judicial nominees in states represented by Republicans.

By negotiating with Republicans over judicial picks, Mr. Biden and majority Democrats have been able to exert some influence over the makeup of trial courts in red states and install people of color on the bench for the first time in some regions.

“It has worked because I think I have convinced the White House that it is better to get a moderate Republican today than a MAGA Republican tomorrow,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee.

Still, the Senate would need to confirm at least 63 more judges this year to match or better the record of the Trump years, when Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who was then the majority leader, pushed through 234 conservative-leaning jurists, including three to the Supreme Court.

After a fast start that initially surpassed the pace set under former President Donald J. Trump, the rate of Biden confirmations tapered off last year, leaving the current total for the administration at 171. That likely put the Trump administration threshold out of reach for Mr. Biden and Democrats in an election year when the Senate will be gone from the Capitol for long stretches. Mr. Durbin has said his goal is to confirm at least 200.

One development working in Democrats’ favor is that the Senate has begun adding to the bench in red states after earlier Republican resistance. In the past week, the Senate confirmed two district court judges for Indiana and one in South Carolina, while the Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings for nominees for seats in Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming, and two seats in Texas.

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As Biden Judicial Confirmations Slow, Senate Gains Ground on Red-State Judges

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