Biden gains 3rd Circuit vacancy with Greenaway's retirement
- Law firms
- 3rd Circuit Judge Joseph Greenaway to retire June 15
- Biden has made three nominations so far to the 3rd Circuit
(Reuters) - U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph Greenaway plans to retire in mid-June from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, creating a fourth vacancy for President Joe Biden to fill on the Philadelphia-based court.
Greenaway, 65, gave notice last week that he plans to step down after 27 years on the federal bench, including a 13-plus year stint as a New Jersey district court judge that preceded his time on the 3rd Circuit, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts disclosed Tuesday.
"He will retire from the bench with a well-earned reputation as a fair, brilliant jurist with an unwavering commitment to delivering equal justice under the law," Democratic U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said in a statement.
His decision will create the fourth vacancy of Biden's tenure on the 3rd Circuit, which hears appeals from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and currently has a 7-6 tilt in favor of Republican appointees.
The Senate has confirmed two of his 3rd Circuit nominees, Arianna Freeman and Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, and the Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced Biden's nomination of Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Cindy Chung to fill another vacant seat.
Booker, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement said he was confident whoever Biden nominates "will be an outstanding, highly qualified individual."
Greenaway began his legal career at what is now called Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel after graduating from Harvard Law School. He was later a federal prosecutor and an in-house lawyer at Johnson & Johnson.
Former Democratic President Bill Clinton appointed Greenaway to the federal bench in New Jersey in 1996, and former Democratic President Barack Obama elevated him to the 3rd Circuit in 2010.
The new vacancy gives Biden a chance to extend his record of naming diverse candidates to the federal bench. Of his 97 confirmed judicial nominees, most have been women and people of color.
Greenaway, who is Black, has spoken repeatedly about the benefits of diversity. He has said he never imagined becoming a judge and was "flabbergasted" when former U.S. senator Frank Lautenberg’s search committee asked if he wanted to be one.
"I have no idea if diversity was a factor in my selection or what specific role it played with the senators and the president," he said in a speech to law students at Cardozo Law School in 2016. "But if it did factor into the decision making, what is wrong with that?"
He said he believed "we all benefit from all kinds of diversity as it relates to our decision making," and that the "benefits of diversity are manifest and need not, in my view, be justified."
(NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from Senator Cory Booker.)
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