Biden’s Revolution in the Courts

Written by Hudson Crozier

What’s happening: The Democrat-controlled Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s 150th judicial nominee last month. The president has now filled 113 seats in federal district courts, 36 in appeals courts, and one on the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: Activists have called on Biden to protect liberal policies on abortion, voting restrictions, race, the environment, LGBT issues, and more with the power of the courts. Biden’s messaging is focused on simply putting “diversity” in the judiciary, but lawmakers are well aware of the political implications.

A partisan battle: Lower-level judicial nominees normally don’t receive much attention — until the presidency of Barack Obama, the Senate would confirm them with almost no opposition. Biden’s picks have brought an unusual amount of resistance from Republicans, who have managed to block a handful of them using an obscure Senate rule.

Helping his own attorneys: For now, the president’s influence will be strongest in appeals courts, which have the final say on most high-profile legal issues. This comes as the Department of Justice advances his political goals in court with unprecedented legal arguments.

  • Transgenderism: The DOJ has helped sueconservativestates for banning child sex change procedures, claiming the Constitution protects them. Appeals courts with right-wing appointees have ruledagainst the DOJ, while a third is reviewing its challenge against an Arkansas ban.

  • Political enemies: The DOJ is using an unusual, disputed interpretation of federal law to bring “obstruction” charges against former President Donald Trump and his supporters who protested at the U.S. Capitol. An appeals court with a Biden appointee has upheld the charges twice now.