The Senate Judiciary Committee’s initial hearing for President Joe Biden’s first judicial nominations, including D.C. Circuit nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is considered a potential Supreme Court candidate, will take place April 28.
The hearing, which will have a panel for circuit and district nominees, features candidates who would bring diversity to the courts to which they’re nominated.
In addition to Jackson, the first panel will also hear from Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Jackson-Akiwumi, who is Black, would be the only person of color on the Chicago-based circuit.
The second panel will be for District of Colorado nominee Regina Rodriguez and District of New Jersey nominees Zahid Quraishi and Julien Neals. Quraishi would be the first Muslim-American federal judge.
The hearing will take place four weeks after Biden announced his first 11 judicial nominees. Biden currently has more than 100 current an expected federal judicial vacancies available to fill.
The hearing could also be a preview for a potential Supreme Court confirmation. Jackson, currently a judge on the D.C. District, is seen a favorite if a vacancy should arise on the high court. Biden pledged to appoint the court’s first Black woman, and liberals are eyeing Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 82, to step down.
Jackson, who is Black and a former public defender, is supported by progressives who want to see judges with a diversity of experience on the bench in addition to racial and ethic diversity in the judiciary.
The hearing will also be the first judicial nominations panel with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) as chair.
The inclusion of two nominees from New Jersey is significant as the state is second only to California in the number of its vacancies that are considered “judicial emergencies.” All six of New Jersey’s vacancies are considered emergencies, or openings that increase the workload for the remain judges on the court.
At least one nominee already faces some criticism. Rodriguez’s initial recommendation from her home state senators sparked backlash from progressives because of her corporate law ties. Progressive judicial advocacy group Demand Justice, released an ad criticizing Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) for the recommendation.