Gail Weilheimer, Montgomery County Judge, Biden’s Nominee for Philadelphia Federal Court

President Joe Biden has selected a Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas judge to fill the last unelected vacancy in Philadelphia’s federal district courts.

The White House has announced the nomination of Gail A. Weilheimer — a former Abington Township commissioner who spent just over a decade trying civil and criminal cases at the state level — to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. in a statement released on Wednesday.

If the U.S. Senate confirms her lifetime appointment, she will fill the seat left vacant in May by the death of Judge Gene E.K. Pratter, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

Weilheimer’s nomination comes as Biden races to cement his influence over the federal judiciary before the end of his term and surpass the record of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Administration officials described her and three other federal court nominees who were also announced Wednesday for vacancies elsewhere in the country as “exceptionally qualified, experienced and committed to the rule of law and our Constitution.”

U.S. district court judges hear countless civil and criminal cases each year and issue initial rulings on crucial legal issues that may eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

After Trump focused on judicial nominations — appointing more than 230 district and appellate judges and three Supreme Court justices during his single term — Democrats have been pushing to leave their own mark on the federal judiciary, a mark Trump won’t be able to erase even if he wins a second term in November.

But Senate Republicans have shown increasing reluctance to work with the Biden administration on judicial nominations as the election approaches — most notably their push to block the nomination of New Jersey lawyer Adeel A. Mangi to the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which hears criminal and civil appeals from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Still, the Senate has confirmed just over 200 of Biden’s judicial nominations, including nine federal trial and appellate judges in Pennsylvania.

The nominations of five other people remain pending, including federal public defender Catherine Henry and assistant U.S. attorney Mary Kay Costello, whom Biden nominated to Philadelphia trial court positions in the past two months.

If the Senate confirms them and Weilheimer, Biden would tie Barack Obama as the president who played the biggest role in shaping the current composition of the Philadelphia-area U.S. District Court, each of which has seven nominated judges. In Biden’s case, all but one were women.

Trump successfully nominated five judges to the federal trial court in the region. The other three on the 22-member panel — which hears cases from Philadelphia, its suburbs and surrounding counties, including Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh and Northampton — were appointed by former President George W. Bush.

Weilheimer, 54, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A graduate of Hofstra University, she was first elected to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas as a Democrat in 2013 after seven years with the Blue Bell-based law firm of Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, where she primarily represented school districts, municipalities and other governmental entities.

Previously, she served as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and as a partner at the Philadelphia firm of Abrahams, Loewenstein and Bushman.

Weilheimer also served as an Abington borough commissioner and as an advisor to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s transition team when he was elected to the Montgomery County Board in 2011.

She lives in Abington with her husband, Larry, senior vice president and general counsel of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Latest Posts