Biden nominates 8 new judges, including first Muslim woman on federal bench

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Arianna Freeman (L) and Nusrat Choudhury (R). Photos courtesy of Federal Defenders office and ACLU

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  • Arianna Freeman would be first Black woman on 3rd Circuit
  • Choudhury would be second Muslim American to serve on the federal bench

(Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated eight new judges, including a public defender tapped to serve on a federal appeals court and a civil rights lawyer who will become the first Muslim woman to serve on the federal bench.

Biden's latest judicial nominees included Arianna Freeman, a federal defender in Philadelphia who if confirmed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would become the first Black woman to serve on that court.

Biden also nominated Nusrat Choudhury, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York, which has courthouses in Brooklyn and Central Islip.

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She had previously worked since 2008 at the national ACLU, including as deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program. If confirmed, she would be the first Bangladeshi American and second Muslim American to ever serve as a federal judge.

The eight nominees brought to 81 the number of federal appellate and district court picks Biden has made since taking office a year ago. The majority of his nominees have been women or people of color, reflecting his emphasis on diversifying the bench.

He has also pushed to diversify the bench in terms of judges' professional backgrounds. The progressive group Demand Justice said that with Freeman's selection, Biden has nominated more public defenders than any past president.

On Wednesday, he also nominated Natasha Merle, the deputy director of litigation at the civil rights organization NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to serve in the Eastern District of New York.

Biden's picks included Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher litigation partner Jennifer Rearden, who was previously tapped by former Republican President Donald Trump, to serve in the Manhattan-based Southern District of New York.

Rearden was nominated in 2020 by Trump after she expressed interest to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and was vetted by Senator Charles Schumer's judicial screening panel. Both are New York Democrats. The nomination expired before she could be confirmed.

In California, Biden nominated Fresno County Superior Court Judge Ana Isabel de Alba to serve in the Eastern District of California and Robert Huie, a former prosecutor and lawyer at Jones Day, to serve in the Southern District of California.

Biden nominated Tiffany Cartwright, a partner at MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, to serve as a judge in the Western District of Washington, and moved to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Nina Nin-Yuen Wang in Colorado to a district court position.

Read more:

Biden finishes 2021 with most confirmed judicial picks since Reagan

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