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Pace quickens for Obama judicial nominations; diversity is a priority

Posted Mar 4, 2013 8:01 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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President Obama is quickening the pace of federal judicial nominations and focusing on diversity in his picks.

Obama has nominated three dozen judicial candidates since January, the Washington Post reports. Fifty vacancies remain, and the president is expected to continue his accelerated push to nominate judges “in a significant departure from the sluggish pace of appointments throughout much of his first term,” the story says.

“Obama is moving quickly to change the face of the federal judiciary by the end of his second term,” the Post says, “setting the stage for another series of drawn-out confrontations with Republicans in Congress.” The story has diversity statistics on the pending 35 nominees: 17 are women, 15 are ethnic minorities and five are openly gay.

In his first term, Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees were more diverse than those of his predecessors. Thirty-seven percent were nonwhites, compared to 19 percent for President George W. Bush and 27 percent for President Bill Clinton. Forty-two percent were women, compared with compared with 21 percent for Bush and 30 percent for Clinton.

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler tells the Post that a diverse bench will provide different perspectives and life experiences, enhancing the quality of decision making. Some conservatives, however, see unwarranted affirmative action at work.

If the administration is “lowering its standards” to find minority candidates, “then I don’t approve,” said Curt Levey, who runs the group Committee for Justice, in an interview with the newspaper.

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