Senate confirms Biden's first judicial nominee as Schumer vows to restore "balance" to courts

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The Senate voted 66-33 on Tuesday to confirm Julien Xavier Neals to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

Why it matters: Neals is President Biden's first judicial nominee to be confirmed, as Democrats begin a push to "restore the balance" of the courts after the GOP-led Senate confirmed a record number of conservative judges under former President Trump.

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  • Trump's aggressive judicial appointments were his most lasting, substantive legacy, as he appointed more than 200 judges to the federal bench — including three Supreme Court justices — in just one term.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged that Senate Democrats would bring "balance, experience and diversity back to the judiciary" with Biden's nominees.

Background: Neals was previously nominated to serve on the district court by former President Obama in 2015, but his nomination expired after then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring it for a vote.

What to watch: There are currently 71 district court vacancies and nine appeals court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Liberal activists have pushed for 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer to retire while Democrats still have control of the Senate.

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