Alliance for Justice Data Highlights Effects on Gender, Racial, Professional, and Party Diversity of President Obama's Circuit Court Nominees
Press ContactKevin Fry email@example.com
Washington, D.C., September 8, 2011—Alliance for Justice today released new data detailing the effects to date of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees on the composition of the federal circuit courts of appeals.
President Obama’s appointees to the federal circuit courts of appeals have been the most diverse in American history. Fifty percent of his nominees have been people of color and 40 percent have been female. Notably, 90 percent of the judges the Obama nominees are replacing are white and 80 percent are male—a harbinger of significant changes coming to the federal judiciary. Although only 20 of the President’s 32 nominees to the circuit courts have been confirmed at this stage in his presidency due to the historically slow pace of Senate action, his track record holds the promise of a federal court system that more closely reflects the diverse nature of the American people. With 10 nominees pending in the Senate for the 17 circuit court seats currently vacant, the president has an opportunity to make significant additional strides in reshaping the appellate bench.
The data also shows that while racial and gender characteristics of judges are changing, the president’s nominees are not substantively different in terms of professional background from previous administrations, with the vast majority coming from private practice or the ranks of lower court judges, government prosecutors, and private practice attorneys. Few have backgrounds in academia or as public defenders or public interest lawyers.
One area where the president’s nominees have already had a significant impact, though, is in the balance of party affiliations in the circuits. At the end of the Bush administration, there were 101 Republican appointees and 64 Democratic appointees in active service on the circuit courts. Today, there are 89 Republican and 73 Democratic appointees. When President Obama took office, Republican appointees constituted a majority on 10 of the 13 circuit courts, Democratic appointees were a majority on one court, and one was evenly divided. Republicans now comprise a majority on only six courts, while Democrats are a majority on four courts; three are evenly divided.
Below are links to the statistical data and descriptive charts compiled by Alliance for Justice, along with a pictorial depiction of the circuit court judges who have left or are leaving the bench and those men and women appointed by President Obama to replace them.
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Alliance for Justice is the leading provider of information on federal judicial nominations. This report is the latest in a series of statistical and substantive analyses of the judicial nominations process and the state of the federal judiciary. A continuously updated statistical summary of the nominations process is always available here. Additional information is also available on the Alliance for Justice Judicial Selection Project Website at http://www.afj.org/judicial-selection/.
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Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process. AFJ is based in Washington, D.C.