Obama’s Diverse Judge Picks Make History

President Obama has made a historical effort to recolor the federal courts.

Posted: 09/13/2011 08:58 AM EDT
Filed Under President Obama

Obama

Opinions on President Obama’s job performance may vary widely, but one unquestionable legacy that the President is sure to leave behind is his record-setting effort in nominating minorities and women to federal judge positions, reversing the centuries-old practice of maintaining a virtually all white, male judiciary.

When viewed in terms of numbers, the accomplishment speaks for itself as Obama’s efforts to recolor the courts have surpassed that of even liberal President Clinton. Out of the 98 nominees confirmed during the Obama Administration thus far, 21 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Latino, 7 percent are Asian-American, and overall, 47 percent are women.

Now compare those figures to the minority representation among the 322 judges confirmed during George W. Bush’s presidency; minorities made up just 18 percent total and only 22 percent were female. During President Clinton’s time in office, out of 372 judicial picks, 25 percent were minorities and 29 percent were women.

Although Obama has already outpaced past presidents in nominating judges of color, he is pushing for the confirmation of even more diverse judges before the official start of election season. Among them are three openly gay nominees, and Native American Arvo Mikkanen, who, if confirmed to a federal judgeship in Oklahoma, will be the only active Native American federal judge. The president is racing against the clock to get at many of his choices locked in as possible as the composition of the federal courts could prove to be a large selling point for him in the 2012 elections.

Currently, 55 judicial nominees are awaiting Senate action and 94 vacancies still remain, the Federal Judicial Center reports.

(Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak)

From Our Partners