President Barack Obama has outpaced his predecessor, George W. Bush, when it comes to confirming judges to federal courts.
As of Friday, Obama has placed 44 new judges on circuit courts and 191 on district courts. At the same time in Bush’s presidency, on April 4, 2006, he had confirmed 43 circuit judges and 189 district court judges.
On Monday, the Democratic-led Senate confirmed John Owens to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, making him Obama’s 44th circuit judge. Notably, he didn’t clear the 60-vote threshold that was required to defeat a filibuster before Democrats scrapped that requirement for non-Supreme Court nominations in November.
That rule change paved the way for many of Obama’s judicial nominees to bypass Republican filibusters and secure confirmation with a simple majority. Still, there are 85 judicial vacancies and 46 prospective judges pending on the Senate floor. Republicans can’t defeat them without Democratic votes but have used the tools at their disposal to slow down confirmation.