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President Biden Nominates Five District Court Judges in Florida and South Carolina, Showcases Bipartisanship
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In a move highlighting President Joe Biden’s commitment to bipartisanship in filling judicial vacancies across the nation, he has nominated five new district court judges in Florida and South Carolina. These nominations come at a crucial time when the White House strives to bridge political divides and address the ongoing issue of judicial vacancies, especially in states with Republican senators.

The Challenge of Judicial Vacancies

Currently, there are 61 judicial vacancies nationwide with no nominees pending. The majority of these vacancies, approximately two-thirds, are located in states represented by Republican senators. This situation gives those senators the power to obstruct any nominations made by President Biden within their respective states, thus necessitating a delicate approach to garner bipartisan support.


Wednesday’s Nominations

On Wednesday, President Biden nominated five distinguished individuals for district court judgeships in Florida and South Carolina. The nominees are:

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Jacqueline Becerra

  • Nominated for the Southern District of Florida.

Melissa Damian

  • Nominated for the Southern District of Florida.

David Leibowitz

  • Nominated for the Southern District of Florida.

Julie Sneed

  • Nominated for the Middle District of Florida.

Jacquelyn Austin

  • Nominated for South Carolina.

It is noteworthy that all these nominees hail from states with two Republican senators, namely Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida and Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina. The support of these Republican senators is highly anticipated, and Senator Rubio has described these Florida nominations as “long overdue.”

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Crucial Senate Tradition: Blue Slips

The importance of securing the support of these Republican senators lies in the Senate tradition of “blue slips.” Under this tradition, any senator can effectively veto a district court nominee from their home state by refusing to return a “blue slip” to support the nominee. This mechanism has faced criticism from progressive advocates who argue that Senate Republicans have employed it to obstruct President Biden’s nominations. They contend that the blue slip custom should be reconsidered.

Biden’s Nominee Diversity

While most of President Biden’s 148 confirmed nominees have been from states with two Democratic senators, the White House has been actively working with Senate Republicans to fill judicial vacancies. This year, confirmations have already taken place for district court judges in Indiana, Idaho, and Louisiana, and several more nominations from states with Republican senators are currently pending, including one from Texas that the Judiciary Committee advanced on Thursday.

The Commitment to Bipartisanship

White House counsel Ed Siskel reiterated the President’s commitment to reaching across the aisle and collaborating with Senate Republicans to appoint highly qualified individuals from diverse professional and personal backgrounds to the judiciary. This dedication to bipartisanship underscores the administration’s objective to address critical vacancies in the court system.

All the nominees announced on Wednesday, except David Leibowitz, have a background as federal magistrate judges. If confirmed, they will be elevated to life-tenured district court judgeships. Leibowitz, a former federal prosecutor, currently serves as corporate counsel for the Braman Management Association, an auto dealer in Miami. It is worth mentioning that he is the nephew of billionaire Norman Braman, a prominent benefactor of Senator Rubio.

In a curious twist, the Miami Herald reported in 2020 that former President Donald Trump was expected to nominate Leibowitz to the bench. However, this nomination never materialized, despite President Trump securing the confirmation of 234 judicial nominees during his tenure.

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