Biden's six newest judicial nominees include Hispanic, LGBTQ firsts

U.S. President Joe Biden listens during his meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • Biden nominates six judges in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington
  • White House mum on whether it may still nominate Chad Meredith

(Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated six federal judges in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Washington, but the list once again did not include a Republican abortion opponent, who the White House recently planned to name to a judgeship in Kentucky.

The latest batch of district court nominees included two who would be the first Hispanics to serve on the federal district courts in Massachusetts and northern New York and the first openly LGBTQ judge in Virginia.

The nominees came a day after Biden nominated five other new judges. The progressive group Demand Justice said the 11 marked the most Biden has nominated in a single week since taking office.

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In Massachusetts, Biden nominated Judge Margaret Guzman, who is Hispanic. She is a former public defender and has served as a state court judge in Massachusetts since 2009, most recently in Ayer District Court in Middlesex County.

Judge Margaret Guzman. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

To be the first Hispanic to ever sit on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Biden nominated Jorge Rodriguez, an attorney in the New York attorney general's office.

In Virginia, Biden moved to appoint Jamar Walker, an openly LGBTQ federal prosecutor, to a judgeship in the state's Eastern District, and elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou to a district court judgeship in the Western District.

Biden also nominated two Seattle lawyers, Kymberly Evanson of Pacifica Law Group and Jamal Whitehead of Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, to serves as judges in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Not on Biden's latest nominees list was Chad Meredith, a Republican former Kentucky solicitor general who the White House planned on June 24 to nominate to a judgeship despite his record defending abortion restrictions.

That day, though, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a nationwide right to abortions.

The nomination did not occur, though the White House has declined to say if it will later, even as progressives have expressed outrage at the potential choice and some key Democratic senators have questioned the prospect.

In total, Biden has made 118 federal judicial nominations since taking office in January 2021, emphasizing through many of his selections gender, racial, personal and professional diversity.

But progressive groups like Demand Justice have been calling on the White House and Senate Democrats to move quicker to fill 120 judicial vacancies before Republicans can potentially retake the chamber in November's midterm elections.

Read more:

Biden nominates 5 new judges, but not Republican abortion opponent

Biden planned to nominate anti-abortion judge day before U.S. Supreme Court ruling -emails

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