Bloomberg Law
Feb. 2, 2023, 4:09 PMUpdated: Feb. 2, 2023, 7:28 PM

Biden Judge Picks Delayed as Judiciary Panel Members in Flux (1)

Madison Alder
Madison Alder
Tiana Headley
Tiana Headley

Two of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees deadlocked in committee and others were again held over, as the panel began moving nominees without a new roster to reflect the bolstered Democratic Senate majority.

Lawmakers on Thursday voted 10-10 on Anthony Johnstone’s nomination to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and 10-10 on Natasha Merle’s nomination to the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Both nominees were previously reported favorably out of committee last Congress, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is now ranking member, voted no on both Thursday. Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said they would be considered again at a later date.

Eight nominees who were ready for a commitee vote were held over for a second time—all but one deadlocked in committee last Congress. Those nominees included Southern District of New York nominee Dale Ho, First Circuit nominee Julie Rikelman, Eleventh Circuit nominee Nancy Abudu, and Sixth Circuit nominee Rachel Bloomekatz.

The delays come as the committee operates with its membership from the last Congress, which was evenly split. Democrats and Republicans each had 10 members Thursday after the retirement of Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the departure of Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

The new roster, which has yet to be formally adopted, would give Democrats an 11-10 majority once Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joins the committee. The nominees who tied and were held over are expected to make it out of committee when the new membership roster is finalized.

“We will vote on a number of these nominees today, while others will be held over a second time. We are in an interesting moment when we’re waiting for the finalization of the Republican reorganization,” Durbin said at the start of the hearing.

The committee voted to advance four circuit and 11 district nominees who were renominated by Biden this Congress.

The appellate selections advanced to the full Senate were D.C. Circuit nominee Brad Garcia, Third Circuit nominee Cindy Chung, Fourth Circuit nominee DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, and Second Circuit nominee Maria Araújo Kahn.

(Updates with additional reporting.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at; Tiana Headley in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at; John Crawley at