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Holly Thomas Is Fourth Biden Pick Confirmed to Ninth Circuit (1)

Jan. 20, 2022, 6:13 PMUpdated: Jan. 20, 2022, 7:27 PM

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Thomas was confirmed Thursday to the largest federal appeals court, making her President Joe Biden’s fourth appointee to that circuit.

Thomas, cleared by the Senate 48-40, will be the second Black woman to ever sit on the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Current Judge Johnnie Rawlinson was the first, appointed by Bill Clinton in 2000.

Thomas previously overcame a party-line committee deadlock on her nomination that necessitated an additional floor vote to move her forward.

At her confirmation hearing last year, she faced questions from Republicans about her position in briefs opposing restrictions on transgender bathroom access.

Thomas declined to answer directly, citing California’s code of judicial ethics and the fact that the issue could come before her as a sitting judge. She said her role as an advocate was separate from her role as a judge.

Thomas served in the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court since 2018 and was previously deputy director of executive programs at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

She was also a special counsel to the New York solicitor general, an appellate attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Schumer also teed up several judicial nominees for procedural votes, including Federal Circuit nominee Leonard Stark and three district picks.

(Adds Johnnie Rawlinson and Senate setting up cloture votes.)

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

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