With the new presidency nearly upon us, NEAT is a proud signatory to the Alliance for Justice’s Statement of Principles: The Biden Administration Must Prioritize Judges. These principles outline the need for President-Elect Biden to appoint a broad and diverse group of judges at all levels. These appointments would provide a critical counterbalance to the Trump Administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s aggressive and effective conservative and anti-LGBTQ court-packing strategy.
The core principle is that the incoming government must “[b]e prepared to nominate demographically and experientially diverse judges with a demonstrated commitment to equal justice.” This means not just swearing in judges of diverse races, genders, sexual orientations, etc., but also those representing a spectrum of experiences. According to the Cato Institute, there’s a 4 to 1 ratio of federal judges are former prosecutors versus former criminal defense attorneys (including public defenders). Diversity of experience is important in the judiciary because it gives impartiality and legitimacy, providing critical balanced viewpoints as judges hear cases and make decisions.
Many of the judges appointed by Trump already had established records against women’s rights, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, consumers, and the environment. The rulings from these judges following their confirmation only solidified the fears of these populations. Notably, Trump has appointed 50% more judges in 4 years than President Obama did in 8 years, and Trump’s appointments are 75% male and 85% white. Therefore, it is necessary to rebalance the scales with judges who represent the country and reflect its population.
Perhaps more than any other area of government, the Judiciary is reliant upon being perceived as fair, balanced, and honest. If judges are viewed as political game pieces, the Third Branch will lose its impartiality and relevance in a working democracy. By blocking President Obama and hyper-activating President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have scored political wins but he has eroded these necessary qualities of the Judiciary. Decisive action is necessary to shore up this damage to our country.