In a Record-Breaking Year for Judicial Nominations, the Biden Administration Fell Short on LGBTQ+ Representation

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As a civil rights organization that litigates and advocates for policies that come before judges for interpretation, Lambda Legal has a vested interest in ensuring that our judiciary can be trusted to administer justice fairly and impartially. We also know that the credibility of our judicial system hinges not only on the decisions it renders but also on whether the institution as a whole reflects the diversity of the nation it serves.

For four years, Lambda Legal documented how former President Donald Trump undermined the integrity of our judiciary. Working closely with then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump advanced numerous judges with documented anti-LGBTQ+ histories. More than one-third of Trump’s 57 federal appellate nominees had records that were so alarming, Lambda Legal opposed their nominations and, in spite of our objections, 54 of them were confirmed. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, only two openly LGBTQ+ judges out of a total 231 (0.8%) were confirmed during the entirety of the Trump term. Other aspects of diversity also suffered, resulting in a federal judiciary that was 74% white and 67% male. In fact, the Trump administration holds the dubious distinction of having confirmed the lowest percentage of non-white judges since George H.W. Bush.

For this reason, one of our top 10 asks of the incoming Biden administration was that it prioritize reversing the damage done to the federal judiciary by the previous administration and restore the integrity and credibility of our courts. We recently published a report on how well President Joe Biden did in his first year to address the full range of asks, including restoring the legitimacy of the federal judiciary. However, because of our unique role as a guardian of the judiciary as a place where LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV can be assured of access to fair and impartial justice, Lambda Legal authored this additional separate, more extensive report on the state of the federal courts at the end of the first year of the Biden administration.

February 1, 2022