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Lower Federal Courts

Obama's Had a Lot More Judicial Vacancies to Fill than Bush Did

Politico had a headline a few days ago proclaiming that “Obama [is] now Outpacing George W. Bush on judges.” The key take-away was that Obama has had a few more judges confirmed than Bush had at the same point in his presidency.

But that only tells part of the story, as many have pointed out. Although Obama's absolute number is slightly higher, he has also made many more nominations than Bush had at this point, something the Politico article mentioned but didn't highlight. So a more revealing statistic is that Bush had 88% of his nominees confirmed at this point, while Obama only has only had 79%.

One reason Obama has made so many more nominations is that there have been so many more vacancies to fill. While 270 judicial vacancies have opened up since January 2009, only 202 had opened up during the corresponding period during President Bush's time in office.

So, for Obama: Lots more vacancies than Bush. Lots more nominations than Bush. Yet basically the same number of confirmations as Bush.

That isn't parity.