Diversifying the Federal Bench

While Republicans have been setting bad precedents for obstruction of judicial nominations, it's worth a moment to look at the good precedents set by President Obama and his nominees.

The White House has an infographic with a great deal of useful information about the state of the federal court system and the efforts to fill our empty courthouses. Part of the graphic is an inspiring list of firsts that have created a more richly diverse federal bench:

  • The first openly gay man confirmed to a federal court
  • The first women judges of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent
  • The first women judges in five different districts

And if Republicans end their filibusters of 17 qualified district court nominees (either by choice or by cloture vote), some more firsts are on the way:

  • Miranda Du would be the first Asian Pacific American federal judge in Nevada
  • Michael Fitzgerald would be first openly gay federal judge confirmed anywhere outside of the Southern District of New York
  • Stephanie Rose would be the first woman federal trial court judge in Iowa's Southern District

President Obama has made great efforts to diversify the bench. Almost half of his confirmed judges are women, more than twice George W. Bush's rate. More than a third have been people of color, while less than a fifth of Bush's nominees were.

Among the 17 district courts nominees who Republicans are currently filibustering, 11 are women or people of color. GOP obstruction means having a federal judiciary that looks less like America.

PFAW