Judicial Confirmations By the Numbers:

A commenter to an earlier post wondered whether the relatively low rate of Senate confirmation of Bush appellate nominations in the past two years can be explained, in part, because Bush nominees were confirmed more rapidly (in comparison to prior administrations) earlier in his term. The short answer is "no."

For comprehensive statistics on judicial confirmations from 1977 through February 2004, one can consult this CRS report. For judicial confirmations since then, one can look at the website of the Office of Legal Policy, which has data on confirmations during the 108th and 109th Congresses. For the current Congress, one can consult the data maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts here.

Consulting these sources, here is what one finds. President Carter had 56 appellate nominees confirmed. President Reagan had 83 appellate nominees confirmed over two terms (for an average of 41.5/term). President Bush (41) had 42 confirmed. President Clinton had 65 confirmed (an average of 32.5 term). President Bush (43) had 35 confirmed during his first term, and has had 24 confirmed since, for a total of 59. This data shows a clear, and fairly consistent, downward trend over the past thirty years.

One also sees a downward trend in the confirmation percentage of appellate appointees. These figures from the CRS reports are as follows: Carter - 91.8%; Reagan - 81.4%; Bush(41) - 77.8%; Clinton: 56.5%.

The confirmation percentage for President Bush's first term through 12/9/2003 was a measly 32.3%. Since then, it has improved. By my calculation, the confirmation rate for appellate nominees during Bush's first term was a respectable 67% and it has been 56% thus far in his second term, for an overall average of 62%. One factor that aided this percentage was the "Gang of 14" deal, that set aside the filibuster of several Bush nominees. The other was the slow rate at which the Bush Administration has made appellate appointments. In any event, it is worth noting that while President Bush has seen fewer appellate nominees confirmed to the bench than his predecessors, the percentage of his appellate nominees confirmed is slightly higher than that of President Clinton.

For my part, I would like to see more of President Bush's nominees confirmed, particularly Peter Keisler (D.C. Circuit), Robert Conrad (4th Circuit), and Rod Rosenstein (4th Circuit), all of whom are extremely well-qualified nominees deserving of confirmation (and two of whom are actively supported by the Washington Post, which has also called for quick action on Conrad). I would also like to see an end to the downward trend in appellate judicial confirmations and needless obstruction by either party, and I hope that the next occupant of the Oval Office -- whether Obama or McCain -- sees any and all qualified appellate nominees considered and confirmed without undue delay.