Nineteen judicial nominees have been confirmed in the last week. By my count, those nineteen confirmations include five circuit court confirmations:
1) Mary Murguia for the Ninth Circuit;
2) Scott Matheson Jr. for the Tenth Circuit;
3) Kathleen O’Malley for the Federal Circuit;
4) Raymond Lohier Jr. for the Second Circuit; and
5) Albert Diaz for the Fourth Circuit;
In the first two years of President Bush’s first term, there were 17 circuit court confirmations. The five confirmations this week brings Obama’s total so far to 16 circuit court confirmations.
Those numbers misrepresent the comparative picture in two key ways. First, Obama also had two nominees confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court during that period. In contrast, there were no Supreme Court vacancies during Bush’s first term. Supreme Court nominations greatly slow the pace of other nominations: During the three or four months while the Supreme Court nomination is pending, little else happens on the confirmation front.
Second, in the last two years the Senate was controlled by the President’s party. In the first two years of President Bush’s first term, in contrast, his party had effective control of the Senate for a few months while the Senate was split 50/50 until Senator Jeffords left the GOP and began caucusing with the Democrats.