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Obama's Judges Blocked At Historic Rate

First Posted: 12/14/10 11:14 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Gavel

As the first congressional session of Obama's presidency draws to a close, what began as a slow process of confirmation has ballooned into a full-blown judicial crisis. The Senate has overseen the slowest pace of judicial staffing in at least a generation, with a paltry 39.8 percent of Obama's judges having been confirmed, according to numbers compiled by Senate Democrats. Of the 103 district and circuit court nominees, only 41 have been confirmed.

By this time in George W. Bush's presidency, the Senate had confirmed 76 percent of his nominees. President Clinton was working at a rate of 89 percent at this point in his tenure.

While the confirmation process is slower now (a function of a packed legislative calendar and Republican obstruction), Obama's nominating pace also lags behind his predecessors. His 103 total nominations compare to 142 by Clinton and 130 by Bush at this same juncture.

Ronald Reagan had twice as many judges confirmed by this time in his presidency, with his 87 confirmations dwarfing Obama's total. George H.W. Bush had moved 70 judges through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

With fewer judges on staff, those left must take on that many more cases. For example, each judge on a Denver panel two robes short is responsible for 593 instead of 430 cases. The slow pace of confirmations has led to a federal judiciary with nearly one in eight seats empty, as a foreclosure crisis fueled by rampant fraud floods the courts.

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