Obama Pushing to Diversify Federal Judiciary amid GOP Delays

The White House said it intends to aggressively push for more judicial nominees during Obama’s second term and is hopeful that changes in filibuster rules will help speed up the process. The Senate decided in January to limit debate for district court nominees from 30 hours to two hours, although the restrictions do not apply to nominees for the Supreme Court or federal appeals courts.

Obama has already broken more barriers with his judicial appointments than any other president, aides said. At the circuit court level, four states now have their first female justices, five have their first black justices and two have their first Hispanics. Sonia Sotomayor also became the first Hispanic to serve on the Supreme Court.

“There’s a leveling-the-playing-field goal that is kind of a frame that overrides the whole endeavor,” Ruemmler, who oversees the nominating process, said in an interview.

Obama, a former constitutional law professor, has long argued for a broad set of criteria in selecting judges. When he picked Sotomayor in 2009, Obama said “experience being tested by obstacles and barriers, by hardship and misfortune” was an important qualification for any jurist because it imparts a sense of compassion for ordinary citizens.

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