“The process started earlier so we would be ready,” said Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, which in cooperation with nearly three dozen other groups has given the Biden team a list of more than 100 potential nominees. “We are pushing hard for them to make judges a priority.”
Besides finding prospects with an ideological contrast to the Trump judges, the activists want to diversify the ranks of jurists presiding in federal court and include more defense lawyers, plaintiffs’ lawyers, civil rights specialists and labor law experts, among others, rather than the more traditional white male prosecutors and corporate lawyers.
“We just don’t see a reason why it has to be that way,” Mike Landis, a public interest lawyer and a member of the Colorado chapter of the American Constitution Society, said about the conventional demographic profiles of judicial nominees.
Mr. Landis is among those who have taken part in a bottom-up effort initiated by the organization to identify and screen prospects for district and circuit court judgeships as well as top legal jobs in the administration. Mr. Feingold said 45 groups working in 36 states spent months on the project and came up with 119 appeals court and 187 candidates for district court as well as almost 200 candidates for top and midlevel legal jobs.
The group would not disclose the names of the judicial candidates but did provide demographic breakdowns that showed a range of legal expertise. Of the total, 83 are government or legal aid lawyers, 69 are plaintiff or civil rights lawyers, 52 are academics, 42 are state or magistrate judges and 25 are public defenders. At the same time, 166 of the 306 are women, 134 are Black, Indigenous or people of color and 186 are under the age of 50.
“We think there should be a broader range of experience on the courts,” Mr. Feingold said.
Those who have worked closely with Mr. Biden over the years believes he, too, wants the courts to have a different look.
“That he wants the intellectual excellence and the capacity to judge appropriately is of course a given,” said Cynthia Hogan, a top adviser to Mr. Biden both in the Senate and in the White House. “I think what he has always looked for is people who have real life experience. He is big on sort of being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.”