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Senate Confirms Julien Neals to Federal Bench

todayJune 8, 2021 1

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Julien Neals was approved for the US district court of New Jersey following a 66 to 33 vote in the Senate on Tuesday. He is the first of President Biden’s nominees to be confirmed to the federal bench.

What We Know:

  • Neals was among the first judicial nominees announced by the White House in late March. The American Bar Association unanimously rated Neals as well-qualified for the position. He served as city council and acting county administrator for Bergen County, NJ, and served in various positions in the Newark city government.
  • He was initially nominated by former President Obama to the district court in 2015 but the vote was stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Neals’ confirmation leaves five vacancies in the NJ federal district court. Biden has already sent nominees to fill three of those seats.
  • Democrats are preparing to confirm more nominees in the coming weeks in hopes of balancing the judiciary. During his presidency, Donald Trump appointed more than 230 judges to federal courts which shifted the judiciary and Supreme Court to the right. According to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Neals and his fellow nominees are the “first of many jurists” that the Democratic-led Senate will consider to regain that balance.
  • Precedents set by both parties have abolished the 60 vote threshold for judicial confirmations. Nominees can now advance with just the majority vote. A separate rule established in 2019 cut the debate time for nominees from 30 hours to 2 hours.
  • Senator Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee has celebrated the confirmation of Neals and the nomination of other candidates under the Biden Administration. “The face of justice is often as important as the fact of justice, and if people appearing before our courts feel there is at least a chance for success based on the background and experience of a judge, I think it’s a positive thing,” he said.

Nationally, there are 71 vacancies in district courts and nine openings in appeals courts. These numbers are expected to rise with retirements.

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