Dispatches from the Creation Wars

GOP Increases Control of Courts

Here’s a staggering fact: Since the 2008 election, Republican-appointed judges are actually a higher percentage of the federal bench than before — even with a Democratic president and control of the Senate.

A determined Republican stall campaign in the Senate has sidetracked so many of the men and women nominated by President Barack Obama for judgeships that he has put fewer people on the bench than any president since Richard Nixon at a similar point in his first term 40 years ago.

The delaying tactics have proved so successful, despite the Democrats’ substantial Senate majority, that fewer than half of Obama’s nominees have been confirmed and 102 out of 854 judgeships are vacant…

When Bush left office, Republicans had appointed just under 60 percent of all federal judges. Twenty months later, the number has dipped only slightly to a shade under 59 percent, according to statistics compiled by the liberal Alliance for Justice. Because of retirements, the percentage of Republican-nominated district judges actually has gone up.


Some of these numbers are mind-blowing:

Now there are 45 nominees awaiting action, two for nearly 13 months. After Alexander’s complaint, the Republicans agreed to allow a mid-September vote for appeals court nominee Jane Stranch, first nominated by Obama in August 2009.

At this point in President George W. Bush’s first term, 72 judges had been confirmed by a Senate that Democrats controlled for much of Bush’s first two years. By contrast, the Senate has had 59 or 60 seats under Democratic control during Obama’s tenure but has only confirmed 40 of his judges. Nixon got 33 judges through a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Obama’s confirmation percentage is now 47%. The lowest number of any recent president was Bush 41, at 79.3%.