After six years of his presidency, more of President Obama’s judicial appointments have been confirmed by the Senate than for either Presidents Clinton or George W. Bush in their first six years. Nearly one-third of Obama’s appointments, some 89, were confirmed in 2014 alone after then Majority Leader Harry Reid led successfully a fight in November, 2013 to change the rules to only require a simple majority vote instead of 60 votes. Reid effectively stopped the Republican filibustering of many of Obama’s judicial appointments.
“Reid’s leadership coupled with that of Senator Patrick Leahy, then Chair of the Judiciary Committee, stopped the Republican slowdown of the confirmation of Obama’s appointments to the federal bench,” said Eleanor Smeal President of the Feminist Majority. “The Feminist Majority supported the rules change. Women and people of color have waited too long for adequate representation on the federal bench,” continued Smeal.
Most importantly Obama’s appointments have changed the face of the federal judiciary. The majority of Obama’s judicial appointments have been women and people of color. Women have comprised 42 percent of his judicial appointments, and 36 percent are people of color. The highest level of appointment of women to the federal bench prior to Obama was Clinton, who had a total of 29 percent. Clinton also previously held the highest appointment of racial minorities to the federal bench at 24 percent. President Obama also appointed 11 openly gay men or lesbian federal judges – the most in history. Only one openly gay person had been ever been appointed before by any president.
In the first six years, some 307 of Obama’s appointments to the federal bench were confirmed. Moreover now nine of the 13 Circuit Courts of Appeal have a majority of judges appointed by a Democratic president. When Obama entered office, Republican appointees were the majority of 10 of the Circuit Courts of Appeals. By the end of October, 2014, according to Jeffrey Toobin for the New Yorker, “Obama has had 280 judges confirmed, which represents about a third of the federal judiciary.”
Media Resources: The New Yorker 10/27/14; The Blaze 12/18/14