President Clinton kept his promise when he vowed to put more women and minorities on the Federal bench-48 percent of Clinton’s federal judge picks have been women or minorities (compared to 28 percent by George Bush and 14% by Ronald Reagan). Currently, 15 percent of judges are minorities and 20 percent are women. GOP politics in the Senate are to blame for the roadblocks Clinton and his federal judge picks have encountered. Thirty-five percent of those picked by Clinton have been blocked by the Republican Controlled Senate. Women and minority candidates also experience longer confirmation processes than do white male candidates-8 months compared to 5 months. And minorities have been rejected by Republicans twice as much as white candidates.
Republican Senators are determined to make the federal bench more conservative, going so far as to deem one federal judge nominee, Enrique Moreno, unfit for the bench after questioning him about his support for Affirmative Action-a program many Republicans oppose. Federal judges are appointed for life and have a dramatic effect on society long after a president has left the office. The GOP’s continual blockage of women and minority candidates who do not support their conservative ideals will impact the federal court’s perspective and handling of civil rights for years to come.
For more information about the Federal Court Bench, please visit Alliance for Justice. Since 1985, the Alliance has been extensively involved in the appointment process for federal judges. Through the Judicial Selection Project, the Alliance monitors and investigates judicial nominations at all levels of the federal branch, and encourages public participation in the confirmation process.