The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s 200th judicial nominee, a milestone as Biden and Democrats seek to counter the huge conservative imprint Donald Trump put on the federal judiciary in his four-year term.

   Biden’s 200th judicial nominee, Magistrate Judge Angela Martinez, an assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona during the Obama administration, was approved by the Senate in a 66-28 vote to become a U.S. district court judge in Arizona. Eighteen Republicans joined with 45 Democrats and three indedpendents to confirm Martinez.

   Judges matter. These men and women have the power to uphold basic rights or to roll them back,” Biden said in a statement, as reported by The Hill. “They hear cases that decide whether women have the freedom to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions; whether Americans have the freedom to cast their ballots; whether workers have the freedom to unionize and make a living wage for their families; and whether children have the freedom to breathe clean air and drink clean water.”

   A few hours later, the Senate confirmed Biden’s 201st nominee, Dena Coggins, to the U.S. district court in the Easten District of California by a 50-44 vote, with just one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voting to approve.

   “President Biden’s nominees to the federal bench represent the best in our judiciary,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, chair of the Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor before the vote to confirm Martinez. “They are highly qualified. Not a single one of these nominees, these 200, have failed to be found qualified or well-qualified by the American Bar Association. That is a departure from the previous administration’s record.”

   Trump appointed 234 federal judges to lifetime terms during his four-year presidency. In contrast, Barack Obama appointed 329 in eight years.

   Most notably, Trump was also responsible for nominating three conservative-leaning justices to the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court, and those are lifetime appointments. Some legal experts have speculated he’ll add to that total should he win a second term in November. His nominees to the bench so far were Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.

   High hopes

   A White House official told Politico the push to appoint judges is the fulfillment of Biden’s pledge to fill every possible vacancy. Biden administration officials hope to exceed Trump’s number should he lose to the former president in November’s election.

   “We want to keep up a steady pace of nominations, and we’d like to see from the Senate an accompanying steady pace of confirmations,” Phil Brest, the White House senior counsel in charge of nominations, told Politico. “Of course, we would love the opportunity to exceed Trump’s numbers.”

   According to the federal court system, there are 44 vacancies, with 17 nominations pending. Although just one of the pending nominations is in a state with at least one Republican senator — Florida — 21 of the remaining vacancies are in states that have at least one Republican senator, putting Biden’s chances of surpassing Trump’s total in jeopardy.

   Five of the vacancies are in Texas, three in Louisiana, and three in Missouri. Durbin has kept the tradition of a “blue slip” for district court nominees, which prevents them from moving forward unless both home state senators give their approval. The blue slip amounts to a veto and forces the White House to withdraw a nominee and vet a new one. It does not apply to circuit court nominees.

   Also, because of the Democrats’ narrow 51-49 majority in the Seante, it would take just one Republican to filibuster a nominee and 41 to oppose a cloture motion and prevent the nominee from coming to a vote on the Senate floor.

   Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the White House lately has been more willing to find consensus picks in order to prevent any stoppages of nominations, Politico reported.

   “They started out very inflexible,” he said of the beginning of Biden’s term. “Then they got more flexible, and we’ve actually reached agreement on a couple. … Now they’re starting to call and go, ‘We want to rev up the process again.'”

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