Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stat of the Day (Judicial Nominations)

The outcome of all those months in which the Republicans were blocking judicial nominations and Barack Obama and the Senate Democrats didn't seem to care very much, from Emily Bazelon in the NYT Magazine this past Sunday (yeah, yeah, I'm a little behind):
Since 1981, Epstein says, Republicans have appointed 41 federal appellate judges under age 45 to the Democrats’ 10. Bush placed 13 judges in this group. Obama, so far, has zero.
Zero. Wow. I did not realize that one.

Obama so far has had 19 appellate judges confirmed. Let's see...16 of them were born in 1957 or earlier, two in 1960, and one outlier in 1965. So it's not just none under 45; it's that only one of them is (now) under 50, and all but three will turn at least 55 next year.

There are currently 18 vacancies for Circuit Court spots, and Obama hasn't even nominated anyone for seven of them. The Senate is scheduled to take up one of the nominees as soon as they get back from August recess. She was born in 1951.

A little context here...Sam Alito was born in 1950, reached the Supreme Court in 2006 after 15 years at the federal appeals level; John Roberts was born in 1955, and joined SCOTUS in 2005 after a couple of years on a Circuit Court. Sonia Sotomayor was born in 1955 and had 12 years as an appeals judge before her elevation, while Elana Kagan was born in 1960, and of course had not been a judge before joining the Supremes.

The obvious conclusion is that we should expect more varied paths to the Supreme Court in future Democratic picks, at least for now. Well, that, and that the combination of GOP obstruction and Obama's apparent indifference has really had significant consequences even beyond the obvious ones.

1 comment:

  1. A line I have been using for far-left organizing for over fifteen years is this: "Think about it: which branch of American government is more corrupt, executive, legislative or judicial?"

    It leads to a lot of interesting places, as nearly everyone has at least one example in one branch. And when I started saying this, I did feel fairly comfortable that the judiciary was probably the least corrupt branch of the American government.

    Now, however, it's pretty clear: One party has been on a long-term project to "load" the judiciary with its own nominees, and in the case of the Supreme Court, it's pretty clear that "their" judges are willing to make politically biased, politically corrupt decisions in major cases. This party has also been stalling on judicial nominees of the other party for a long time, and has accelerated/intensified this judicial stalling for the current President.

    This is a fairly clear, and majorly important, case of breaking the previous norms of bipartisan "normal political" behavior. However, neither academia, the press, nor the party that is being strangled by the politically biased decisions of our politically-corrupt Supreme Court, can talk about it.

    Us grassroots types need to find our voices.

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