Gavel Grab » Obama Surpasses Predecessors for Getting Judges Confirmed
by Peter Hardin December 23rd, 2014
President Obama has completed six years in the White House with a success rate in winning confirmation of judges that exceeds that of his predecessors at a corresponding point.
Obama’s judicial confirmation rate is 92 percent, compared to 89 percent for President Clinton and 84 percent for President Bush, according to scholar Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution.
The Senate confirmed 89 judges this year, and many analysts have been quick to assign that success rate to the chamber’s changing its filibuster rules in November 2013. The change has meant that most judicial nominees require only a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than an effective supermajority of 60 votes, for confirmation.
Wheeler has been less willing than many to accept this reasoning. He explains:
“[B]ecause B follows A doesn’t necessarily mean A caused B. Most of those 96 confirmations after November 21, 2013, were by voice vote or with only a few nay votes. Only 15 of the 96 votes fell below 60 yeas, suggesting (we certainly can’t be sure) that the great majority of the 2014 confirmations would have occurred even under the old rule.”
He adds, “Most likely, the main cause was Majority Leader Harry Reid’s determination to use the floor time necessary to get as many confirmations as possible before Democrats lost their Senate majority.” His analysis was entitled, “Record Lame Duck Confirmations Pad Obama’s Improving Judicial Record.”"
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