Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday forwarded the names of three diverse, female attorneys to President Joe Biden to fill a growing number of vacancies on federal courts in New York.
His recommendations to the president include Nusrat Choudhury for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Choudhury, 44, is currently the legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and oversees a team focused on advancing civil rights across the state. She served for more than 11 years at the national ACLU based in New York City.
If Biden nominates her, which is expected, and the Senate confirms her, Choudhury would make history as the first Bangladeshi American federal judge and the second Muslim American federal judge in the country.
Schumer also recommended Jessica Clarke for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Nina Morrison for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Clarke, 38, is the civil rights bureau chief in the New York Attorney General’s Office. She oversees the bureau’s work on violations of federal, state or local civil rights law in New York. Clarke has overseen the bureau’s work on enforcing fair housing laws, ensuring students’ equal access to education, and addressing police reform in the state.
Morrison, 51, is the senior litigation counsel at the New York-based Innocence Project, an organization focused on exonerating wrongly convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. Morrison has been an attorney at the Innocence Project since 2002 and has personally freed more than 30 innocent people from prison and death row.
All of Schumer’s recommendations are for lifetime appointments.
“These three diverse and incredibly talented women would bring tremendous expertise in civil rights, fair housing, criminal justice reform and more to the federal bench,” Schumer said in a statement. “I am confident that each of these women, like others I have recommended, will follow the facts and administer justice without fear or favor. They are a breath of fresh air and much-needed fresh perspective, and I am proud to recommend each of them.”
Schumer’s recommendations are keeping with a theme that Biden wants in his judicial nominees: a break from white, male, corporate lawyers. That’s the profile of the vast majority of former President Donald Trump’s court picks.
Biden’s White House has urged Democratic senators to recommend far more diverse people for judgeships, both demographically and professionally. The president’s nominees so far have included public defenders, civil rights lawyers, voting rights lawyers and historic firsts with Native American and Muslim American picks.
Schumer’s recommendations also come at a time when New York is seriously lagging in federal judicial confirmations. It currently has nine vacancies on U.S. district courts, four of which are considered judicial emergencies.