Judicial Nominations in the First Fourteen Months of the Obama and Bush Administrations

Fourteen months into the Obama administration, continuing complaints abound about the pace of judicial nominations, Republican obstructionism and Democrats’ treatment of nominees under former President George W. Bush. This brief highlights some characteristics of Obama and Bush nominations at the end of March 2010 and 2002, respectively. Among other things:

Bush made considerably more nominations than has Obama;

  • proportionately more Obama nominees have gotten hearings, and more quickly;
  • confirmation rates after four months of the nomination date are slightly higher for Obama’s circuit nominees than for Bush’s, but the time from nomination to confirmation for Obama circuit appointees is considerably higher than for Bush’s;
  • Obama’s circuit nominees are, on average, four years older than Bush’s. Obama nominees’ proportion of white males is noticeably lower than among Bush nominees;
  • despite the relative paucity of nominees, Obama has already had a small effect on the courts of appeals in terms of the party-of-appointing-president balance;
  • Obama district nominees from states where senators use committees to screen district judge candidates to forward to the White House display some process and background differences compared to his other district nominees.