President Barack Obama lags behind George W. Bush when it comes to leaving his imprint on the nation's federal courts of appeals, a Brookings Institution report has found.
Last year brought heightened contentiousness to the circuit confirmation process—particularly involving Obama's three nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. That fight led Democrats to change Senate rules and prevent the minority the right to block judicial nominations (except for the U.S. Supreme Court).
In the shadow of that political battle, however, the federal courts still have more judicial vacancies now than at the beginning of the Obama administration, according to a year-end roundup by Russell Wheeler, a Brookings fellow who studies the nominations process.