Almost one in eight federal judgeships is vacant in the country, and legal scholars warn that the increasingly politicized confirmation process threatens the administration of justice across the nation, says the Los Angeles Times. Democrats and the Obama administration accuse the Republican minority in the Senate of systematically opposing the president’s nominees to prevent him from putting his stamp on a judiciary that, Democrats say, moved to the right under President Bush. Republicans and conservative analysts say the stalled pace of “replenishment” is part payback for congressional Democrats’ efforts to scuttle some Bush nominees and part indifference on the part of President Obama, who they say has been slow to nominate judges.
Of the 102 federal judgeships open, there are nominees pending for 39 seats. Obama’s judicial confirmation rate is the lowest since analysts began detailed tracking the subject 30 years ago, with 47% of his 85 nominations winning Senate approval so far. That compares with 87% confirmed during the first 18 months of the previous administration, 84% for President Clinton, 79% for President George H.W. Bush and 93% for President Reagan. If the current rate of replacing retired, resigned and deceased judges continues, Assistant Atty. Gen. Christopher H. Schroeder warned, nearly half of the 876 federal judgeships could be vacant by the end of the decade.