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Liberals Fear Obama Losing Chance to Reshape Judiciary

Posted Nov 16, 2009 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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President Obama is lagging behind his predecessor in making judicial nominations, disappointing liberals who had hoped to see a new federal judiciary quickly take shape.

Obama has nominated only 12 people to appeals courts and 14 to district courts, the New York Times reports. At a similar point in his administration, former President George W. Bush had made 28 appellate and 36 district court nominations.

So far, the Senate has confirmed only two of Obama’s nominees for appeals judges and four for district judges. About 100 federal judgeships are currently vacant.

Some liberals fear the departures of White House counsel Greg Craig and deputy White House counsel Cassandra Butts will further slow the pace of nominations. Democrats now have a “razor-thin advantage” in the Senate that allows them to head off filibusters, but that could change with next year’s elections, the story says.

Columbia University law professor Theodore Shaw, who formerly headed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., told the Times that the civil rights community is growing more concerned about the pace of nominations and confirmations. “No one wants a blown opportunity,” he said.

Related coverage:

Los Angeles Times: "For Obama judicial nominees, confirmation is slow process"

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