Published on: Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Senate Judiciary Committee, holding its first judicial confirmation hearing since President Biden took office, heard from two nominees for federal appeals roles: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated for a prominent appeals court in Washington; and lawyer Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, tapped for a seat on the Chicago-based Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (article available here).

The committee also heard from three nominees for U.S. district courts, including Zahid Quraishi, who would become the first Muslim-American to hold such a post. All five nominees are people of color, reflecting President’s pledge to diversify the federal bench. Previous coverage available here.

Much of the hearing focused on Judge Jackson and Ms. Jackson-Akiwumi, both Black women who have experience as federal public defenders representing indigent criminal defendants.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Durbin, said there were many former federal prosecutors serving in the judiciary, many of whom were terrific judges, “but they do not share the same life experience as these nominees.” He said only two current federal appellate judges have spent significant time as public defenders.

The committee is likely to vote on the nominees in the coming weeks, sending them to the Senate floor for final votes on their confirmation.