Obama Pushing to Diversify Federal Judiciary amid GOP Delays

The diversity of Obama’s judicial nominees stands in contrast to staff selections at the start of his second term that have been dominated by white men, including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

By contrast, 17 of the 35 pending judicial nominees are women, 15 are ethnic minorities and five are openly gay, according to White House statistics. Six are straight white men.

During Obama’s first term, 37 percent of his confirmed judges were nonwhites, compared with 19 percent for President George W. Bush and 27 percent for President Bill Clinton. The trend is similar on gender: 42 percent of Obama’s first-term judges were women, compared with 21 percent for Bush and 30 percent for Clinton.

Of the 874 federal judgeships, 39 percent are held by women and 37 percent are held by non-whites, according to data kept by the Federal Judicial Center.

“It’s very, very important that these courts reflect the diversity of what’s coming in terms of demographics,” said Nancy Zirkin of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an advocacy group. “It will be his most long-lasting legacy. . . . Obama, by putting on a diverse number of judges, we believe will shape the courts for years to come.”

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