President Biden announces six additional judicial nominees

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

President Biden announces six nominees for federal judgeships 

President Joe Biden (D) nominated six individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on May 12. Three were for positions on the 1st, 2nd, and 10th Courts of Appeal. The other three were for district court judgeships.

Biden nominated Gustavo Gelpí to the 1st Circuit to replace Juan Torruella, who died on Oct. 26. He nominated Eunice Lee and Veronica Rossman to the 2nd and 10th Circuits, respectively, to replace judges who assumed senior status on Jan. 21 and Feb. 1.

Since taking office, Biden has nominated 19 individuals to federal judgeships. Twelve nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Seven nominees are awaiting a committee vote. The U.S. Senate has not yet confirmed any Biden nominees. 

There are 77 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of 870 total Article III judgeships. Including non-Article III judges from the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, there are 81 vacancies out of 890 active federal judicial positions. Biden announced his first federal judicial nominees on March 30.

At his inauguration in January 2021, President Biden inherited 46 Article III vacancies: two on U.S. appeals courts, 43 on U.S. district courts, and one on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

The following chart shows the total number of judicial vacancies at the start of each month since the Biden administration began in January 2021. It includes vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, Court of International Trade, Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Virginia Republicans select nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general 

Wednesday’s Brew detailed Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the Virginia Republican Party’s unassembled convention after six rounds of vote-counting using ranked-choice voting. The party also announced the results this week of delegate voting for the state’s two other state executive offices—lieutenant governor and attorney general.

  • Lieutenant governor: Winsome Sears (R) won the party’s nod for lieutenant governor among six candidates. Her nomination was announced on May 11. After five rounds of vote-counting using ranked-choice voting, Sears received 54% of the delegate vote to Tim Hugo’s 46%.
  • Attorney general: Jason Miyares defeated three other candidates to win the Republican Party nomination for attorney general, the results of which were announced on May 9. After three rounds of vote-counting, Miyares received 52% of the delegate vote to Chuck Smith’s 48%.

Democrats have won every statewide executive office election in Virginia since 2013. The Democratic Party will select statewide nominees for these offices in a June 8 primary.

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, Virginia Republicans held an unassembled convention on May 8 at 39 locations for all three statewide executive offices. Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting to determine a winner, rather than using multiple rounds of voting. Click here to learn more about how the Republican Party of Virginia conducted its statewide convention.

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Alaska Legislature confirms Treg Taylor as attorney general

A joint session of the Alaska Legislature voted 35-24 to confirm Treg Taylor as the state’s attorney general on May 11. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Taylor as acting attorney general on Jan. 29 after Ed Sniffen resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Before Dunleavy appointed Taylor attorney general, Taylor served as deputy attorney general in charge of the civil division at the Alaska Department of Law. In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly.

The attorney general is a state executive office in all 50 states and is the chief legal advisor for state government. Attorneys general are empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes, and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature. 

Nationwide, 26 states have Republican Party-affiliated attorneys general, and 24 states have Democratic Party-affiliated attorneys general. Virginia is the only state electing its attorney general this year. Thirty states will elect an attorney general in 2022.

Voters in 43 states and Washington, D.C., directly elect the attorney general. In five states—Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wyoming—the governor appoints the attorney general. The state Legislature appoints the attorney general in Maine, and Tennessee’s supreme court appoints that state’s attorney general.

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