Obama makes historic achievement in diversifying federal courts

The Obama administration has confirmed twice as many minorities and women as federal judges than any other sitting president. AP reported that over 70 percent of confirmed nominees are “non-tradtional.”

This compares to Bill Clinton’s record of 48 percent and George Bush’s 33 percent.

Because federal judges serve for life, the president’s effort to diversity the federal bench has potentially far reaching implications.  

During the eight years of the Reagan administration conservatives were able to place far right judges throughout the federal judiciary, adversely effecting legal decisions for generations.

The new judges suggest more balance and less ideologically driven decisions.

Over 47 percent of the new judges are women, 21 percent are African American and 11 percent are Latino. Asian judges comprise 7 percent of the total.

“By comparison, of the 322 judges confirmed during George W. Bush’s presidency, 18 percent were minorities and 22 percent were female,” writes AP.  “Of the 372 judges confirmed during Clinton’s terms, 25 percent were minorities and 29 percent were women.”

The numbers however could be far better but for delays created by the GOP in Congress.  Only 62 percent of the president’s nominees have been confirmed. Clinton confirmed 84 percent of his choices while Bush succeeded with 86 percent.

Speaking to this, President Obama said, “A minority of senators has systematically and irresponsibly use procedural maneuvers to block or delay confirmation votes on judicial nominees.”

Bush nominees only had to wait 29 days before confirmation: Obama’s on average have waited a full 151 days.

As of this writing 51 nominees are waiting in the Senate, and there remain some 94 vacancies in the court.

With the electoral season soon to be in full swing, the confirmation process is likely to draw to a halt.

As is well known, President Obama has also confirmed two women to the Supreme Court. For almost 150 years there were no minorities or women sitting as federal judges.

Photo via White House press service.



Joe Sims
Joe Sims

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People's World and loves biking.