Judge Gina Méndez-Miró confirmed as U.S. District Judge for Puerto Rico, the first LGBTQ+ judge on the court
Méndez-Miró is also the 100th overall judge confirmed by the Biden Administration since taking office.
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The Senate officially confirmed President Biden’s 100th judge to the federal bench earlier this afternoon on the Senate floor in the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Passing with a 54-45 vote, Judge Gina Méndez-Miró now joins the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico as the third Biden appointee for the District Court of Puerto Rico confirmed by Senate Democrats.
She makes history as the first LGBTQ+ judge on the court.
“Our courts should reflect the diversity of our nation,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
“With the confirmation of Gina Méndez-Miró, we’ll now have three female jurists in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, strengthening the legal expertise on that bench, and bringing much needed gender diversity to Puerto Rico’s federal courts.”
She is Biden’s 69th confirmed district court judge. The president previously got Senate approval for 30 circuit court judges and one Supreme Court justice – Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Her confirmation also shifts the balance of the active judges on the District Court of Puerto Rico from a deadlock with three Democrats and Republicans to a Democratic majority.
A former labor lawyer and openly gay Latina, she is a representation of Biden’s efforts to diversify the country’s judiciary.
“Today, because of the work done by this majority, our federal judiciary is far more balanced, far more diverse, far more experienced than the one we had just two years ago, and it’s something every American can be proud of,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Senator Bob Casey did not vote while GOP Senators Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski and Roger Wicker voted in favor of Méndez-Miró’s confirmation.
“I am proud of the historic progress this Senate Democratic majority has made in confirming 100 well-qualified and diverse nominees — including more people of color to Circuit Courts than any other president — and we’re just getting started! As Senate Majority Leader, confirming judges will continue to be one of my top priorities this Congress,” he said.
Along with the confirmation, there was a motion to invoke cloture on Lindsay C. Jenkins’ nomination to be a U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Illinois.
Former Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain told NBC News earlier on Feb. 14 that the record number of appointees under the Biden administration will leave a lasting impact with more milestones to hit with less than two years left in his term.
“Appointing 100 judges has already had a major impact on the judiciary — and it puts President Biden on track to name a transformational 200 judges before the end of this term,” Klain told NBC News.
He also said that Biden’s diverse appointee plan will leave a lasting impact on the judiciary and that it is “breaking the mold” of previous picks.
“Just as important as the quantity of judges is their quality, professional background and diversity. President Biden’s history-making contribution to judicial appointments isn’t just ‘breaking the mold’ of prior federal judicial picks — it’s making a whole new one.”
But there was some opposition, particularly from Texas Senator Ted Cruz who labeled Biden’s picks on Monday as “radicals.”
“It’s no secret that I was not a fan of the judges Barack Obama appointed,” he said Monday. “But Obama’s nominees look positively moderate and reasonable compared to the zealots the Biden administration has put forward.”
That was not the view of fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
One of the few Republicans in favor, Graham has always touted his bipartisan approach to confirming judicial nominees and even received backlash from a leading conservative judicial advocacy group — Demand Justice — after advancing many of Biden’s nominees.
“The professional, racial, and gender diversity of his nominees is unmatched, and it will set the bar for all future presidents,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Now, we need Sen. Durbin to ensure Senate Republicans’ abuse of the blue slip tradition won’t stop President Biden from appointing even more judges in the second half of his term,” the statement continued.
Other recent confirmations were for Judge DeAndrea Benjamin for United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit.
She is the 12th Black woman confirmed to a Circuit Court, as nine previous judges had ever been confirmed before Biden took office, and no other president has ever confirmed more than three.
Benjamin is the second woman of color to ever sit on this court.
Judge Cindy Chung was also confirmed to the United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, Monday, Feb. 13. She is the 13th Asian woman confirmed to a lifetime post under the Senate Democratic majority — more than any other president in history.
Chung is also the first Asian American ever confirmed to the court and will change the makeup of the Circuit from a split seven Democrats seven Republicans to a democratic majority.
“These judges are the kind of heavy hitters who until now rarely made it to the federal bench,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “We Democrats are proud, very proud, that we’re changing that.”
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