March 30, 2021

President Biden will announce 11 judicial nominees on Tuesday, including three Black women for federal appellate court vacancies and the first Muslim American to serve on a district court, The Washington Post reports. The highest-profile nomination is U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, often viewed as a step toward the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden has pledged to nominate judges from diverse personal and professional backgrounds and said he would appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

Jackson, who would fill the vacancy left by Attorney General Merrick Garland, clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest justice on the Supreme Court, the Post notes. She was a public defender and member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission before being appointed to the federal bench, and she dabbled in drama and improv comedy at Harvard, "where she was once paired with classmate Matt Damon," the Post reports.

"This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession," Biden told the Post. "Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong."

Other nominees on Biden's list include New Jersey magistrate Judge Zahid Quarishi, who would be the first Muslim American on a district court; former public defender Candace Jackson-Akiwumi for the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; and intellectual property lawyer Tiffany Cunningham for the Federal Circuit appellate court. Jackson-Akiwumi would be the only Black judge on the 7th Circuit appellate court and Cunningham would be the first Black judge on the Federal Circuit.

Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, starts out with 68 judicial vacancies — seven on the appellate courts and 61 district court seats, Politico notes. When former President Donald Trump took office, he had a Supreme Court seat held open for him by Senate Republicans, 86 district court vacancies, and 17 circuit court spots.

Over Trump's four years, Senate Republicans confirmed more than 200 judges, including three Supreme Court justices. Despite this early jump at judicial nominations, Biden is "not going to accomplish as much as President Trump did and everybody understands that," William & Mary law professor Neal Devins tells The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

5:17 p.m.

Nicki Minaj is opening up about the "devastating" loss of her father.

The rapper emotionally addressed her father's death in a letter on her website Friday three months after he was killed in a hit-and-run on Long Island, reports Entertainment Weekly. These were her first public comments on his death, according to Yahoo News.

"It has been the most devastating loss of my life," Minaj wrote. "I find myself wanting to call him all the time. More so now that he's gone. Life is funny that way."

In February, Charles Polevich was charged in connection with the hit-and-run death of Robert Maraj. Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said Polevich "made the conscious decision to leave" the scene "instead of dialing 911" after hitting Maraj with his car in Mineola, New York, The Associated Press reported. Minaj's mother filed a $150 million lawsuit against Polevich in March; her lawyer said at the time Polevich's "behavior was criminal, cowardly, and immoral."

In her post on Friday, Minaj wrote that she can't yet "bring myself to discuss" her father's death further, but she paid tribute to him by writing, "May his soul rest in paradise. He was very loved & will be very missed." Brendan Morrow

5:16 p.m.

It's the meme that just won't go away (but will go "to the moon," apparently).

A Rhode Island man sold a vacant lot in Providence for 150,000 Dogecoin (or about $50,000 at the time), in what is believed to be the first real estate deal brokered using the meme-inspired cryptocurrency, local TV station WJAR reported Thursday.

"He said, 'I think it would be really cool if we could only sell my lot using Dogecoin,'" realtor Kyle Seyboth said of the unnamed seller. Now, the sale has Seyboth's "phone ringing from people who want to do the same thing," even if fluctuating prices make it impossible to know whether the buyer or the seller will come out on top.

Dogecoin first began as a joke, in the wake of 2013's popular Doge meme. But after recent endorsements from Elon Musk and a subreddit of online investors, the digital currency has seen quite the meteoric rise in value. Prices dropped after Musk's May 8 appearance on Saturday Night Live, and again when the SpaceX CEO announced Tesla would stop accepting "Bitcoin as payment," but still it remains the "fourth-largest crypto by market value on CoinMarketCap," per CNBC.

As of Friday morning, Dogecoin was up 39.4 percent after crypto exchange platform Coinbase announced it would officially list the coin, reports CNBC. Brigid Kennedy

5:13 p.m.

In January, The Pokémon Company announced that it was teaming up with Universal Music Group artists to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Though nobody knew exactly what that meant at the time, the hope was obviously for either "new pocket monster-inspired tunes" or a Lavender Town theme exercise remix — but instead we got Post Malone singing about his favorite NFL team?

On Friday, Katy Perry shared her own contribution to the anniversary celebrations: a video for her new single "Electric," in which she travels back in time with her Pikachu to make her younger self enter a talent show. Though the song sounds like it belongs on a TJ Maxx playlist ("there's no reason that this life can't be electric!"), it's at least more on-brand for Pokémon than Hootie and the Blowfish.

Read more at Kotaku. Jeva Lange

5:09 p.m.

Nicolas Cage put on an ill-advised fake Jamaican accent in order to audition for 2011's The Green Hornet, according to Seth Rogen, who went on The Howard Stern Show earlier this week.

Rogen recalled how Cage said he wanted his character to be a "white Bahamian man," which "set off a lot of alarms." Rogen explained, "I remember going there with Evan [Goldberg] my partner and just being like, 'I just don’t want him to do it in front of us. I'll just be so uncomfortable.' And I remember Evan being like, 'He's not going to do it. He'll talk about it. He won't launch into it. That would be too much.'"

But then Cage showed up "and literally within 60 seconds … he stands in front of us reciting a monologue, talking in a Jamaican accent," Rogen said. "And we were just like, 'It's happening.'" Read the whole cringey story at The Hollywood Reporter, or watch below. Jeva Lange

4:54 p.m.

"My girlfriend" just doesn't have the same ring to it, but comedian John Mulaney is reportedly dating actress Olivia Munn — news that broke shortly after Page Six revealed he's divorcing his wife of six years, Anna Marie Tendler.

Munn and Mulaney supposedly met at church, though Munn has admitted she's had her eye on Mulaney for years. In a 2015 HuffPost Live interview resurfaced by Page Six on Friday, she revealed "we were at a wedding together and I was like 'Oh my gosh, do you and your fiancé want to go have dinner or something and go hang out?'" She added that "I was just so obsessed with hanging out with and talking with him," but afterwards, when Munn emailed Mulaney, he never wrote her back.

"I might've got the wrong email — probably. That's what I tell myself," she joked. Jeva Lange

3:33 p.m.

Joel Greenberg, Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) former confidant, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and admitted to sex trafficking a minor, The New York Times reports.

Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and associate of Gaetz, reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to six federal charges against him, including sex trafficking of a child, according to CNN. He admitted that he and others paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, saying that he "introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts" with her, the Times reports.

Prosecutors reportedly say they have evidence corroborating Greenberg's admissions, per the Times, and Greenberg also reportedly admitted to other crimes including stealing money from taxpayers.

Gaetz has been facing an investigation into whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and violated sex trafficking laws. Though Greenberg reportedly didn't implicate Gaetz by name in the new filings, according to the Times, he "has told investigators that Mr. Gaetz had sex with the girl and knew that she was being paid."

Reports emerged last month that Greenberg was likely cooperating with prosecutors, at which point his attorney said, "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today." Meanwhile, investigators in the probe have also reportedly been seeking cooperation from Gaetz's ex-girlfriend, who according to CNN is "believed to have knowledge of drug use and arrangements with women." Brendan Morrow

2:30 p.m.

Politicians — they're just like us.

President Biden's staff during his time as vice president did not serve leafy greens at events because Biden "did not want to be photographed with any leaves in his teeth," said Christopher Freeman, a caterer for the then-vice president, in an interview with The New York Times.

Instead, Biden stocked his vice presidential residence with items like vanilla chocolate chip Haagen-Dazs, Special K cereal, grapes, cheese, and some Orange Gatorade to wash it all down. No "untag" button needed.

Read more at the Times. Brigid Kennedy

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