The Sunday Washington Post reports, "Obama pushing to diversify federal judiciary amid GOP delays," by Philip Rucker. there is an infographic at the link. Here's the beginning:
In Florida, President Obama has nominated the first openly gay black man to sit on a federal district court. In New York, he has nominated the first Asian American lesbian. And his pick for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit? The first South Asian.
Reelected with strong support from women, ethnic minorities and gays, Obama is moving quickly to change the face of the federal judiciary by the end of his second term, setting the stage for another series of drawn-out confrontations with Republicans in Congress.
The president has named three dozen judicial candidates since January and is expected to nominate scores more over the next few months, aides said. The push marks a significant departure from the sluggish pace of appointments throughout much of his first term, when both Republicans and some Democrats complained that Obama had not tried hard enough to fill vacancies on federal courts.
The new wave of nominations is part of an effort by Obama to cement a legacy that long outlives his presidency and makes the court system more closely resemble the changing society it governs, administration officials said.
The article is referenced in, "Pace quickens for Obama judicial nominations," posted at the ABA Joural by Debra Cassens Weiss.
In his first term, Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees were more diverse than those of his predecessors. Thirty-seven percent were nonwhites, compared to 19 percent for President George W. Bush and 27 percent for President Bill Clinton. Forty-two percent were women, compared with compared with 21 percent for Bush and 30 percent for Clinton.
"Vacancies, backlogs plague federal judiciary," is the Houston Chronicle report by Gary Martin.
When federal Judge Royal Furgeson Jr. took senior status from the federal bench in San Antonio in 2008, colleagues thought it would be a matter of months before his seat was filled.
Five years later, the vacancy is categorized as a "judicial emergency" and senior Judge Alan Ezra has come all the way from Hawaii to hear cases on a docket in the Western Judicial District that includes 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border.
"It would be nice to get some help," said Chief District Judge Fred Biery in the Western District of Texas. "We are pedaling as fast as we can on an increasingly rickety bicycle."
Texas is not alone.
The result is that emergencies exist in 21 states, including California, Texas, New York, Washington, Arizona and Florida.
The situation is so dire in California that Sen. Diane Feinstein is seeking to not only fill vacancies but also create new judgeships - during a time of fiscal austerity - to ease the caseload burden.
A bipartisan bill pending in the Senate, sponsored by Feinstein, D-Calif., would create 10 new judgeships, including four in California, two in Arizona, three in Texas and one in Minnesota - all states that include U.S. borders.
Earlier coverage of federal judicial vacancies and nominations begins at the link.