Biden's judicial appointees by far the most diverse, ABA says

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House
U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 27, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) - President Joe Biden has far outpaced his Oval Office predecessors in nominating women and racially diverse attorneys to the federal bench, a new American Bar Association analysis confirms.

As of July 1, 68% of the 68 federal judges nominated by Biden and confirmed by the Senate are Black, Hispanic or Asian American, and just three are white men, the ABA found. By contrast, 16% of the judges installed on the federal bench by former President Donald Trump are non-white, according to the organization's 2022 Profile of the Legal Profession.

The report, released Thursday, details how diversity within the federal judiciary is slowly increasing.

After Biden, Barack Obama appointed the second-most non-white federal judges, at 36%, followed by Bill Clinton at 24%. According to the ABA’s figures, which date back to the Carter administration, Ronald Reagan had the lowest percentage of non-white federal judges at 6%.

Among the federal judges appointed by Biden, 28% are Black; 22% are Hispanic; and 18% are Asian, according to the ABA. Biden has also appointed a larger percentage of women than recent presidents. More than three-quarters (77%) of his appointments are women. That figure was 24% for Trump and 42% for Obama.

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In addition to racial diversity, Biden has pushed to nominate federal judges with a broader range of professional experience and has tapped more nominees with backgrounds as public defenders than past presidents.

Biden’s most high-profile judicial appointment to date is Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former public defender who last month became the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reuters Graphics

The ABA data shows that the federal judiciary is still far less diverse than the U.S. population. Across the Supreme Court and federal district and appellate courts, 11% of judges are Black, nearly 8% are Hispanic and nearly 4% are Asian, the report said. By contrast, the U.S. population is 14% Black, 19% Hispanic and 6% Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Altogether, women now comprise 30% of federal judges. But three states — Nebraska, Idaho and North Dakota — have no female federal judges. And 16 states have no federal trial court judges of color, the ABA found.

Read more:

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at