In effort to transform the court system to resemble the society it governs, President Obama is pushing to name more women and minorities to the federal judiciary bench. Unfortunately, his efforts to diversify the judiciary system face Republican resistance.
After receiving criticism that he didn’t make a significant enough effort to fill vacancies in the federal court during his first term, the President has nominated nearly three dozen candidates since January, including Judge William Thomas in Florida (who would be the first openly gay black male federal judge); Pamela Ki Mai Chen in New York (who would be the first Asian American lesbian federal judge) and Sri Srinivasan in the D.C. Circuit, who would be the first South Asian federal circuit court judge. Obama is expected to nominate many more judges in the coming months.
Unfortunately, the president still must overcome the ever-present Senate roadblock, where Republicans have repeatedly shut out judicial confirmation votes for months and sometimes years. According to the Federal Judicial Center, the President currently has 35 nominees awaiting a Senate vote, and 50 vacancies awaiting nominees. Among the 35 pending nominees, 17 are women, 15 are ethnic minorities and five are openly gay, according to White House statistics.
Hopefully Obama’s accelerated nominating pace will give the Senate the push it needs to fill the gaps in our judiciary system and will lead to a fairer representation of diverse experience and viewpoints on the federal bench.