Retiring Judges Give President Biden Chance to Appoint Even More Federal Judges

  • Amanda Casanova Contributor
  • Published Feb 09, 2021
Retiring Judges Give President Biden Chance to Appoint Even More Federal Judges

President Joe Biden may soon have a chance to fill in vacancies for federal judges.

When Biden took office there were some 57 available judicial vacancies, The Washington Examiner reports. In comparison, former President Donald Trump had 117 openings to fill.

In recent weeks, some 20 judges have moved to “senior status,” which places them in a position toward retirement and with a potential vacancy to fill.

"He will be looking for judges who can interpret and apply the law in a way that is sensitive to the lived experience of the people impacted by it," said Laurence Tribe, a law professor emeritus at Harvard University.

Biden is likely to undo many of Trump’s lower court appointments when the new president announces his own placements.

"There's still some division on the circuit courts," said Michael Moreland, a law professor at Villanova University. "That's where we're going to see if Trump's legacy is really reaffirmed."

Retiring judges include Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the Justice Department’s prosecution of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

Judge Mary Briscoe, who worked with a panel in 2012 to reject a redistricting case, also announced she would be moving to senior status.

Judge Carlos Lucero, who struck down Utah’s gay marriage just before the Supreme Court ruled on the issue, also moved to senior status.

Sullivan, Briscoe and Lucero were all appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

At the Supreme Court level, many are questioning when Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire. He is the oldest member of the court at 82.

“Eventually I’ll retire, sure I will,” Breyer told Slate in December. “And it’s hard to know exactly when.”

“I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said.

During the election season, Biden said if given the opportunity, he would appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court.

Photo courtesy: Rawpixel/Unsplash

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.