That creaking sound you hear is the confirmation window closing in the Senate as the fourth year of the Obama presidency begins. The Republican controlled Senate — don’t get excited, talking about who’s really in charge, not raw numbers — is, especially after Obama’s recess appointment gambit, going to be grumpier than ever when it comes to confirmations.
That means probably no judicial nominee gets confirmed after the August break and precious few after Memorial Day. Those with the best chances of wearing those black robes are the 19 nominees already on the Senate floor and another 18 nominees awaiting hearings and votes in the Judiciary Committee might make it to the Senate floor by spring.
As the chart below shows, even if the Senate confirms all those folks, Obama will end up putting 161 judges on the 775-member federal judiciary. That’s 44 fewer than President Clinton’s first-term total and 39 fewer than President George W. Bush’s. (Obama also will likely end up with the greatest number of judicial vacancies at the end of his four years.)
It’s possible a few more nominees will get lucky, but if you want to be one of them, get moving.