Pointing to an effort to ensure diversity in the court system, President Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Nancy Gbana Abudu for a seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Abdu is the daughter of immigrants from Ghana, a graduate of Columbia University and Tulane University Law School.
Abudu is deputy legal director and interim director for strategic litigation at the Southern Poverty Law Center and previously was the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, where she specialized in voting rights. An announcement from the White House said Abudu would be “the first African-American woman judge ever to sit on the Eleventh Circuit, the second woman of color ever to sit on that court, and only the third African-American judge ever to sit on that court. She would also be the first person of color to serve on the Eleventh Circuit from Georgia.”
Biden also nominated South Carolina U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
“These choices also continue to fulfill the president’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the White House announcement said. The nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
This is President Biden’s twelfth round of nominees for federal judicial positions, bringing the number of announced federal judicial nominees to 75 in his first year–more than any president since Ronald Reagan. Some 80 percent have been women and 65 percent have been people of color. In comparison, 84 percent of Trump’s nominees were white, and 76 percent were male.
Of Biden’s appointees, 40 have been confirmed, compared with 18 in Trump’s first year and 12 in Obama’s. Biden’s list of firsts includes Beth Robinson, the first openly lesbian judge serving on any circuit court. She took office on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in November. Florida Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican, voted against her. Sen. Marco Rubio did not vote.
And Zahid Quraishi, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, as the first Muslim American federal judge. Scott voted against him. Rubio voted for him.
“[J]ust as Trump chose extremely conservative nominees,” David Lat, author of the Original Jurisdiction, newsletter, wrote in the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, “Biden is selecting extremely liberal nominees. Lacking an organization as influential as the Federalist Society to verify ideological bona fides, his administration has shrewdly found professional proxies for progressive politics, turning to fields whose practitioners tend to be very liberal: public defenders, public-interest lawyers and attorneys representing labor unions. It’s too early to say anything definitive, but I predict Biden’s judges will be the most liberal since President Carter’s.