Obama overtakes George W. Bush on judges confirmed

April 5, 2014

During his first term, President Obama had a difficult time filling seats on the federal bench. Senate Republicans were uncooperative, and the administration was particularly slow in selecting nominees. With fewer nominees in the pipeline, there was less pressure to confirm pending nominees. Even though the Senate confirmed a higher percentage of Obama’s first-term appellate nominees than had been confirmed during President George W. Bush’s first term, the absolute number of appellate judges confirmed was lower. (For more data on nominations during Obama’s first term, see this report by Russell Wheeler.)

After a slow start, the Obama administration has picked up the pace. As Politico reports, the president has put forward 34 more nominees than had Bush at this point in his second term. More significantly, as of this past week the Senate has confirmed more Obama nominees to the federal bench than were confirmed at this point in Bush’s second term.

Over the course of his presidency so far, Obama’s nominated 301 judges and gotten 237 confirmed. By this point in his presidency, Bush had nominated 267 judges and had 234 of them confirmed.

As of April 4, Obama has gotten 44 circuit court judges and 191 district court judges confirmed. As of April 4, 2006, Bush had 43 circuit court and 189 district court judges confirmed.

I would expect this trend to continue, provided the administration continues to name qualified nominees. Although Senate Republicans are still not particularly cooperative, the end of filibusters for judicial nominations means it is likely that Obama’s nominees will continue to be confirmed at a decent pace.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
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