President Obama has put his stamp on appointing judges to the federal appeals courts, as only one appellate nominee, Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, awaits a Senate confirmation vote, and a presidential election year likely will mean that is the last such vote.
This is part of the analysis coming from nomination-tracking expert Russell Wheeler of Brookings at its FixGov blog. Here are the numbers Wheeler gives about the change in the composition of the federal appeals courts under Obama:
“When Obama took office, Republican appointees held 56 percent of the 179 circuit judgeships, Democratic appointees 36 percent; eight percent were vacant. With Restrepo’s confirmation, Republican appointees will occupy 42 percent of the seats, Democratic appointees 53 percent, and five percent will be vacant.
“Courts with a majority of Democratic appointees have increased from one to nine and courts with a majority of Republican appointees have dropped from ten to four (two were even in 2009).”
There will be an opportunity in 2016 for the Senate to reduce the current number of 52 district court vacancies. He says this year started with 33 such vacancies and Republicans in control of the Senate let them rise to the current level.