Obama Boasts Judicial Diversity, Points to Senate Confirmation Delays

March 10, 2013 in Politics, Top News

Associate Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor Swears in Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden, with his wife Jill Biden, center, holding the Biden Family Bible, shakes hands with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor after taking the oath of office during an official ceremony at the Naval Observatory, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Washington. Source: Carolyn Kaster/AP.

Thursday, the Obama administration released a promotional information aid to play up accomplishments in appointment of women and minorities to the judicial branch. This comes after President Barack Obama began his second term in January facing an unexpected wave of criticism about a lack of diversity in recent cabinet appointments.

“I’m very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, White House and a Cabinet than any in history,” Obama responded to critics at that time. “I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you’re going to end up with a diverse staff.”

Obama’s attempts to deflect criticism have not quelled the concerns of many fellow Democrats, however. This political backdrop Thursday contributed to the White House releasing a special info-graphic detailing a litany of accomplishments in diversifying the nation’s judiciary. It was billed as “Creating a Judicial Pool that Resembles the Nation It Serves”.

Obama’s political team is touting a variety of accomplishments and comparisons with previous administrations when it comes to diversity in successful appointments of Federal judges. Among the President’s confirmed judges: 42 percent have been women compared to 22 percent under former President George W. Bush and 29 percent under President Bill Clinton; 17 percent African American compared to 8 percent and 16 percent respectively; 12 percent Hispanic compared to 9 percent and 7 percent; and 7 percent Asian American compared to 1 percent each for his two predecessors.

Also among diversity accomplishments in judge appointments, the White House claims the first Latina appointment to the Supreme Court, the first openly gay man confirmed to a federal court, the first women judges of Chinese, Filipino, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese descent, the first Supreme Court Justice confirmed with a disability, the first openly gay Asian American judge, the first African American Circuit Court judges in five states, the first Hispanic Circuit Court judges in three Circuits, and the first female judges in six district courts.

Currently 33 judicial nominations are pending in the Senate. Of these, 15 are women, 6 African Americans, 3 Hispanics, 4 openly gay, and 3 Asian Americans.

In the same information piece the White House took the Senate to task for delaying many of the judicial appointments Obama has sent over for confirmation by the upper chamber. According to the White House, the average wait time between Judiciary Committee vote and confirmation of such nominees during Obama’s presidency has been 147 days for circuit court candidates and 110 for district court candidates, compared to 35 and 34 days during President George W. Bush’s tenure.