Biden’s ‘trailblazing’ judicial candidates for DC and Maryland

President Joe Biden named a slate of judicial picks Tuesday, and some of the nominees represent firsts for D.C. and Maryland.

If they’re all confirmed, the D.C. District Court could see its first Asian American Pacific Islander woman to ever serve, as well as the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge for Maryland.

Probably the highest-profile appointment is Judge Ketanji Jackson, who was born in the District and oversaw the Comet Ping Pong case in 2017, and is Biden’s nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She has served on the U.S. District Court for D.C. since 2013.

Jackson’s nomination would fill the vacancy left by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Former President Barack Obama had considered Jackson for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Biden has promised to nominate a Black woman for the high court if he has the opportunity to do so.

Biden also intends to nominate two women to the federal bench in Maryland: judges Lydia Griggsby and Deborah Boardman.

Griggsby would be the first woman of color to serve in the role. She has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims since 2014. Before that, Griggsby was chief counsel for privacy and information policy and privacy counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Boardman is a U.S. magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, a position she was appointed to in 2019. She was previously a federal public defender.

Judge Florence Pan is Biden’s candidate for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Pan, who is an Asian American Pacific Islander, has been an associate judge on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia since 2009.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton recommended Pan.

“Judge Florence Pan has the professional experience and academic credentials to be an outstanding federal district court judge,” Norton said in a statement.

“At this time in history, when Asian Americans are literally being attacked, she is a particularly important nominee. I also take great pride in seeing Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom I recommended to President Obama for the U.S. District Court for D.C., elevated to the D.C. Circuit, which many consider to be the second highest court in the land.”

Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta is Biden’s candidate for Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Puttagunta serves as an administrative judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission. Before joining the commission, she was a solo practitioner from 2013 to 2019, representing indigent criminal defendants in trial and on appeal.

“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Biden said in a statement. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”

The White House said Biden’s judicial choices reflect his deeply held belief that the federal courts should reflect the “full diversity of the American people” in background and professional experience.

A full list of Biden’s nominees — 11 in all, including Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, who would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history — is online.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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