Biden nominates abortion clinic’s lawyer to federal judge seat

by Jacob Fuller


President Joe Biden on Friday nominated a lawyer who represented the Mississippi abortion clinic at the heart of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade to become a federal appeals court judge.

Biden’s latest slate of nine new judicial nominees included Julie Rikelman, an abortion rights lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights. The president picked Rikelman to serve on the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The nomination, which Republicans are likely to oppose in the narrowly Democratic-controlled Senate, came a month after the conservative-majority Supreme Court overturned Roe and the federally protected right to abortion in the Dobbs v Jackson case.

Rikelman had argued against such a ruling in representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization – Mississippi’s only abortion clinic – in challenging a Republican-backed law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The clinic has since closed, after a near-total ban in Mississippi sprang into effect following the decision by the Supreme Court. Several states have banned or are expected to ban or restrict most abortions following the ruling.

The nomination followed criticism by Biden’s fellow Democrats about a since-abandoned plan to nominate a Republican who had defended abortion restrictions to a judgeship in Kentucky, in a deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Progressive advocates have been warning that the window to confirm new judicial nominees like Rikelman and others is narrowing with the Nov. 8 midterm elections fast approaching – and a high probability that Republicans regain control of the Senate.

Rikelman is one of two new appellate court nominees by Biden. He also nominated Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Maria Araujo Kahn to the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Biden’s latest nominees continued the White House’s push to “diversify” the federal bench. In reality, that means Biden has focused on choosing nominees based on race, gender, and sexuality – specifically those who are anything other than white, straight males – rather than merit, expertise, or experience.

Such nominees include Daniel Calabretta, a California state court judge nominated to become the first openly LGBT federal judge in the state’s Eastern District. Myong Joun, a state court judge in Boston, was picked to become the first Asian American man on the federal bench in Massachusetts, where Biden also nominated Julia Kobick, a deputy state solicitor in the state attorney general’s office.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters. Additional reporting and edits by Jacob Fuller, FISM News.