President Barack Obama has appointed fewer people to federal judgeships than any other President since Richard Nixon at this time in his presidency.
Yes, to be sure, this is IN PART due to Republican delaying tactics, but it is also due to Democratic weakness in scheduling candidates for confirmation and pushing them.  

Mark Sherman makes this point in “Obama Getting Fewer Judges Confirmed Than Nixon” for the AP at

Sherman writes:

“…despite the Democrats’ substantial Senate majority, that fewer than half of Obama’s nominees have been confirmed and 102 out of 854 judgeships are vacant.”

He also notes that the onus us not only on the GOP it is also due to Obama’s inaction:

“The Obama administration got a slow start sending names to the Senate last year and has yet to try to fill two vacancies on the high-profile federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, where four current Supreme Court justices once served.

Obama has voiced only tepid public objection as more and more of his judicial nominees become stranded in Senate limbo. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been unwilling to set aside the considerable time needed to force votes under complex Senate rules.

Now there are 45 nominees awaiting action, two for nearly 13 months.”

Brookings Scholar Russell Wheeler notes the irony that George W. Bush, who barely (if ever) won in 2000, had a much better success rate than Obama EVEN THOUGH THE DEMOCRATS CONTROLLED THE SENATE.  Bush had 72 judges approved compared to Obama’s 40.  Note that Obama has APPOINTED 40 fewer people than either Bush or Clinton at the same time in their presidencies.  

As the article continues:

“The smaller number of nominees has been a surprise because Obama once taught constitutional law and installed a team with vast experience nominating and confirming judges.

“It seems like it has not been a priority,” said Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. “It’s been surprising because he’s a constitutional lawyer, he knows how courts work, how important they are. It seemed like an easy bone to throw to his base to make a mark, a lasting mark.”

There it is: Obama simply doesn’t fight for progressive or liberal causes.  Ever.  He did the same thing with the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to be Head of the Office of Legal Counsel (John Yoo’s old job).  Yes, Obama appointed her and then let her appointment languish, without any fight, even when Democrats have a huge Senate majority, until she withdrew from the position.  Obama is doing the same thing with several federal appointees including Justice Lewis Butler, a distinguished African American ex Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, whose nomination has languished for more than a year.  

Butler’s appointment has never come up for a Senate confirmation vote.  It’s hard to confirm judges if you don’t schedule their confirmation hearings and fight for them.  

In a sense, Obama’s failures with regard to judicial appointments are indicative of an overall systemic failure on his part:  no fight, especially no fight for progressive or liberal people or values.  Why is it, for instance, that Elizabeth Warren has still not been appointed to the new consumers affair bureau?

Most scholars and pundits are predicting huge Democratic losses in the House and Senate.  Larry Sabato, one of the nation’s most distinguished political scientists, is predicting a 49 seat loss for Democrats in the House (loss of control of the House of Representatives) AND their loss of 8-9 Senate seats (effectively losing the Senate to the GOP and Blue Dogs like Nelson and Lieberman).  

So what are you waiting for, Mr. President?  You will NEVER have as strong a majority as you have now.  Please, please, get off your butt and get something done, not only on judges, but on getting the economy moving forward, on cutting real waste in government (in the Pentagon and not Social Security) and dealing with corporate greed. Please fire the dead wood around you like Rahm, Summers and Geithner and bring in some new guns.

Continuing to play the role of the Prince of Denmark is a losing role.

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