Judiciary

Despite more nominations to federal bench, Obama trails Bush in 'imprint' on judiciary


President Barack Obama was expected to leave his legacy on the federal courts through judicial appointments. But, although the two-term Democrat has made more nominations than his predecessor, George W. Bush, he may not have as much of an impact due to confirmation contention and inheriting a larger percentage of federal judges appointed by Republican presidents.

“Obama, in terms of the party of the president who appointed circuit judges in active status, has not able to put as much of an imprint on the courts of appeals as did Bush by the end of his fifth year,” writes visiting fellow Russell Wheeler in a report on the Brookings Institution website.

“Obama had a circuit confirmation rate about the same as Bush’s, but Bush inherited an appellate judiciary split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointees, with 26 vacancies. He was able by the end of 2005 to shift that split to 59 percent Republican appoints (and 60 percent by the end of eight years). Obama inherited that 60-40 split. At the end of 2013 it slightly tilted to Democratic appointees (52% to 48%).”

Contention between Democratic and Republican lawmakers and resistance on the part of the GOP to confirming Obama’s nominees has slowed down the appointment process and made it difficult for the president to make progress on reducing the vacancy rate on the federal bench, Wheeler says.

For more details, including statistical charts, read the full article.

Hat tip: Blog of Legal Times

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