President Obama has increased his number of judicial appointments in an attempt to diversify the federal judiciary. Since taking office in January, President Obama has nominated over three dozen candidates compared to his first term where he received criticism for not appointing judges quickly. Of the 35 nominations awaiting Senate approval, 17 are women, 15 are ethnic minorities, and five are openly gay – many of whom would be historic firsts for their states.
White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told reporters “Diversity in and of itself is a thing that is strengthening the judicial system. … It enhances the bench and the performance of the bench and the quality of the discussion . . . to have different perspectives, different life experiences, different professional experiences, coming from a different station in life, if you will.”
President Obama’s confirmed federal judicial nominations from his first term were more diverse than both his predecessors, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. 37% percent of his confirmed nominations were non-white compared to 19% and 27% respectively. Also, 42% were women compared to 21% and 30% respectively. President Obama’s nominations have also taken significantly longer to be confirmed by the Senate that his predecessors. His first term nominees took 225 days to be confirmed, whereas Bush’s nominations took 175 days and Clinton’s took 98 days.
There are currently an additional 50 judicial vacancies awaiting nominations. President Obama is expected to make those nominations over the next few months.
Sources: ABA Journal 3/4/2013; Washington Post 3/3/2013