Everyone knows that President Obama nominated the first ever Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor and its fourth woman Justice Elena Kagan, but did you know that he’s also nominating a flurry of minorities and women to the federal bench?
President Obama has nominated nearly as many minorities as were already sitting on the federal bench when he came into office.
President Barack Obama is moving at a historic pace to try to diversify the nation’s federal judiciary: Nearly three of every four people he’s gotten confirmed to the federal bench are women or minorities, the first president who hasn’t selected a majority of white males for lifetime judgeships.
More than 70 percent of Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees during his first two years were “non-traditional,” or nominees who were not white males. That far exceeds the percentages in the two-term administrations of Bill Clinton — 48.1 percent — and George W. Bush — 32.9 percent, according to Sheldon Goldman, author of the authoritative book “Picking Federal Judges.”
Of the 98 Obama nominees confirmed through his nearly three years in office to date, the administration counts 21 percent as African-American, 11 percent as Hispanic, 7 percent Asian-American and almost half — 47 percent — as women. By comparison, of the 322 judges confirmed during George W. Bush’s presidency, 18 percent were minorities, and 22 percent were female. Of the 372 judges confirmed during Clinton’s terms, 25 percent were minorities, and 29 percent were women. In these figures, some judges fit into more than one category.
While these statistics are commendable let’s not forget that judges to the federal bench need to be confirmed by the United States Senate. The confirmation process has been a stalemate with Republicans filibustering everything including Obama’s nominees to the federal judiciary. 55 nominees are awaiting Senate action currently.
Still, the fact that President Obama has pro-actively selected minorities and women for the federal bench is a huge step in the right direction. Progress.