Senate confirms first Biden judicial nominee as Schumer promises to move 'swiftly' on picks
Senate confirmed 234 Trump judges in four years
The Senate Tuesday confirmed the first of President Biden's judicial nominees to a federal district court, starting a long effort for Biden and Senate Democrats to match the massive number of judges confirmed under former President Donald Trump.
The Senate voted 66-33 to confirm Julien Neals to be a judge on the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.
"The Senate today will achieve an important milestone for the session: we will confirm the first of President Biden’s judicial nominees," Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "The first, but certainly not the last, not even close. We will soon confirm Julien Neals to be a Judge for the District of New Jersey, and afterwards, we will turn to the nomination of Regina Rodriguez to be a Judge for the District of Colorado."
Neals was previously the county counsel for Bergen County, New Jersey, according to the White House. He's also worked for the Newark, New Jersey government and spent some time working in private practice in Secaucus, New Jersey.
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Neals graduated from Emory University School of Law after earning his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Neals "will be an extraordinary district court judge," in floor remarks Monday.
"Mr. Neals is an outstanding nominee who has devoted his entire career to the practice of law in his home state of New Jersey," Menendez continued. "Throughout his three decades in the legal profession, he's served in many diverse roles. Every step of the way he has impressed those around him with his integrity, sound judgment and commitment to equal justice and fair administration of the law."
The Senate also advanced the nomination of Regina Rodriguez to be a district judge in Colorado by a 72-28 vote Tuesday. She is expected to face a final confirmation vote in the coming few days.
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Trump nominated – and the then-GOP-controlled Senate confirmed – 234 total judges to the federal district courts, circuit courts, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Democrats decried Republicans' focus on the judiciary during Trump's presidency and many have floated expanding the federal or lower courts to give Biden vacancies to fill. Republicans will almost certainly block any such effort, but Biden is likely to have many opportunities to nominate judges to vacancies that arise organically.
"I greatly look forward to confirming what will be the first of many judicial appointments during the Biden Administration," Schumer said Tuesday.