January 16, 2014 — The Senate's confirmation of Robert Wilkins to a federal appeals court this week continues President Obama's legacy of appointing more African-American, Asian, female, Latino and openly gay judges than any other president, Politico reports.
The Senate on Monday confirmed Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, making him the 41st African-American judicial nominee of Obama's to receive confirmation. Wilkins' confirmation follows those of Nina Pillard and Patricia Ann Millett, two female judges who will also join the D.C. Circuit, Politico reports.
Contrast With Predecessors
The proportion of women and racial minorities among Obama's nominations and successful confirmations is substantially higher than other recent presidents', Politico reports. Overall, 43% of Obama's nominees are women, compared with 22% of nominees during the George W. Bush administration and 29% during the Clinton administration. Obama has nominated 14 women in districts that have never before had a female judge.
Eighteen percent of Obama's confirmed judges are African-American, compared with 8% for Bush and 16% for Clinton; 13% are Latino, compared with 9% for Bush and 7% for Clinton; and 7% are Asian or Pacific Islander, compared with 1% for both Bush and Clinton.
Judicial Appointment Strategy
According to Politico, the diversity of Obama's judicial nominees largely is attributable to the efforts of his chief of staff, Denis McDonough. McDonough hosts weekly meetings with White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler to identify openings, discuss who they would like to appoint and how they will get those nominees confirmed.
Ruemmler said, "The president is holding my feet to the fire to make sure that we're continuing to drive judicial nominations, both in terms of numbers but also in terms of diversity" (Dovere, Politico, 1/13).