On December 1, 2020, Kristi Johnson received her judicial commission to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. On the same date, Benjamin Beaton received his judicial commission to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
Johnson was nominated to the court by President Donald Trump (R) on May 4, 2020, to succeed Judge Keith Starrett, who assumed senior status on April 30, 2019. Johnson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 17, 2020, by a vote of 53-43.
Beaton was nominated by President Donald Trump (R) on September 8, 2020, to succeed Judge Justin Walker, who was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on June 18, 2020. Beaton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 17, 2020, by a vote of 52-44.
Following nomination by the president, a federal judicial nominee completes a questionnaire that is reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee then holds a hearing to question the nominee regarding their judicial philosophy and their previous rulings. The committee also sends the nominee’s home state senators a blue slip, permitting them to express their approval or disapproval of the nominee.
After the hearing, the committee votes to approve or return the nominee. If approved, the nominee is reported to the full Senate for a vote. If returned, the president may renominate the person. If the Senate confirms the nomination, the individual receives commission to serve as a federal judge for a life term. If the individual is not confirmed, they do not become a judge.
As of December 1, 2020, President Trump had made 227 Article III judicial appointments—three supreme court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 168 district court judges, and three judges on the Court of International Trade.