President Barack Obama is the first president who has not picked a majority of white males for the judiciary at this point in his term, according to a new report.
Nearly three out of every four confirmed judicial nominees have been women or minorities, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday. That means more than 70 percent of Obama’s picks during his first two years in office are “non-traditional” nominees, or not white males, political science professor Sheldon Goldman said.
“It is an absolutely remarkable diversity achievement,” Goldman told the AP.
In Bill Clinton’s administration, 48.1 percent were “non-traditional,” while Bush made 32.9 percent of his picks women or minorities.
Obama has had 98 of his nominees confirmed thus far, with the administration saying 21 percent are African American, 11 percent at Hispanic, seven percent are Asian American and 47 percent are women, the AP reported.
Throughout his term, Obama has selected several women and minorities for high-profile judicial gigs — a Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time, and with Justice Elena Kagan, Obama put three women on the high court for the first time. The White House has also won confirmation of the first openly gay man to a federal judgeship, with J. Paul Oetken serving in New York City.
There are now 94 vacancies in the federal courts, and 55 nominees are awaiting Senate approval, the AP wrote. Obama has a number of notable judicial nominees, in terms of diversity, waiting for confirmation. These include three more openly gay nominees as well as Arvo Mikkanen, who would become the only sitting Native American federal judge in the country.
In order to avoid a partisan showdown during the 2012 election year, the president will need to hustle as many of his nominees as possible through the confirmation process before the year is out.
“The court will be a central issue,” Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice told the AP. “It will be in people’s minds when they go into the ballot box.”
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