President Obama, who has nominated more ethnic minorities and women for federal judge positions than any other president, has dramatically increased judicial diversity during his term, despite low rates of confirmation of his nominees. Only 97 of President Obama’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, compared to President George W. Bush, who has had 322 of his judicial nominees confirmed, and 372 nominees confirmed during President Clinton’s two terms.
Twenty-one percent of President Obama’s nominees are African Americans and nearly 50 percent are women. By contrast, only 7 percent of President George W. Bush’s nominees were African American and 23 percent were women, and President Clinton’s nominees were 16 percent African American and 29 percent women. Moreover, three of President Obama’s nominees are openly gay. Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel, stated, “The president wants the federal courts to look like America. He wants people who are coming to court to feel like it’s their court as well.”
Nevertheless, President Obama’s judicial nominations have been stalled more than those of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The Constitutional Accountability Center indicated, “Never before has the number of vacancies risen so sharply and remained so high for so long during a president’s term.” Moreover, the Senate has taken approximately three times longer to confirm Obama’s district court nominations compared to the first Congress of the Bush administration.