Biden flips federal court in N.Y. to majority women with Senate vote

Anne Nardacci, a nominee to serve as a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, appears before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 2022. U.S. Senate/Handout via REUTERS
  • U.S. Senate confirms Biden nominees Anne Nardacci and Camille Vélez-Rivé
  • Number of female-dominated district courts has expanded under Biden

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate on Wednesday expanded the number of federal district courts dominated by women judges to 10 as it voted to confirm a Boies Schiller Flexner litigator to become a judge in upstate New York.

The Senate voted 52-44 in favor of Anne Nardacci filling a long-vacant seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, which will now be able to boast a three-woman majority among its five active judges.

The Senate did so shortly after voting 55-42 to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé to a district court judgeship in Puerto Rico, bolstering the number of women in the territory's female-dominated court.

The district court in Puerto Rico flipped to a majority of women in active judicial service earlier this month when the Senate confirmed María del Antongiorgi-Jordán.

While men still dominate most of the nation's 94 district courts, the number of district courts with a majority of life-tenured female judges in active service has expanded from two at the start of Democratic President Joe Biden's tenure to 10.

The trend has underscored Biden's pledge to bring greater diversity to the federal bench. More than three-quarters of his 87 confirmed judicial nominees to date have been women, and a majority have been people of color.

Nardacci, 45, declined to comment on Wednesday. But she had previously called the possibility of her district flipping to a majority of female active judges "historic."

The Cornell Law School graduate began her legal career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom as an associate working on antitrust matters from 2002 to 2005. She then moved back to Albany, where she grew up, and joined Boies Schiller in 2005.

Wednesday's votes on Nardacci and Vélez-Rivé came as Senate Democrats pushed ahead with trying to advance several more of Biden's pending judicial nominees during the lame-duck Congress, with five appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who recommended Nardacci, during the hearing touted the Senate's record under Biden of confirming diverse judges who "break the pattern of nominees we've grown accustomed to for so long."

Among those appearing before the panel was Julia Kobick, a deputy state solicitor in Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's office who is one of two women who if confirmed would give that state's district court a majority of women too.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said the vote was Tuesday. It was Wednesday.

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at nate.raymond@thomsonreuters.com.