The Washington Post

Obama judges confirm numbers way up in ‘post-nuclear’ world

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) talks to reporters after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on May 20. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s triggering of the “nuclear option” on Nov. 21 — which reduced the number of votes needed to end filibusters on most nominees — has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of Obama-picked judges on the federal bench.

The Senate confirmed only 32 Obama nominees for district court seats in all of 2013, according to Senate data, but has already confirmed 46 in the first half of this year and is likely — even allowing for the month-long August vacation and holiday recesses in November and December — to easily double the 2013 total.

Obama, at this point, has already put 270 judges on the federal bench (not counting the Supreme Court), according to a count by the Alliance for Justice. He’s appointed 49 to appellate courts so far (compared to 45 for Bush at this point and 43 for Clinton) and 221 to district courts (compared to 224 for Clinton and 203 for Bush).


It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to match Clinton’s 372 lower court judges or even Bush’s total of 327. That would depend on who runs the Senate in 2015. If the Republicans re-take the Senate, judicial confirmations likely will drop to something approaching, say, zero.

So given Obama’s dismal approval ratings, if you aren’t confirmed this year, better hope you saved the receipt for that beautiful black robe you bought.




Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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