Obama's Judicial Nominations in the Minefield of Senate Obstruction

Sheldon Goldman, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Drawing on a lifetime of research on the politics of judicial selections and confirmations, Goldman has developed a comprehensive Index of Obstruction and Delay that reveals the intense partisan opposition President Obama must surmount to leave his mark on the federal courts.


In his brief about tracking obstruction and delay in U.S. Senate confirmations of judges to the federal courts, Goldman explains his innovative Index and discusses the trends it reveals about Senate handling of federal judicial nominations made by presidents from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. Goldman's Index and findings are fully elaborated in a 2003 article published in the journal Judicature.

In a new SSN brief on Obama's judicial nominations, Goldman and his research collaborators Elliot Slotnick of Ohio State University and Sara Schiavoni of John Carroll University describe the unprecedentedly socially diverse nominations the current president has made to fill openings on federal district and appeals courts, and the authors track the fate of these nominations in the Senate. They show that Obama has broken new ground in the appointment of women, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, and gay people to the federal bench. Their brief draws from a September 2013 article for Judicature, and includes overall comparisons between judicial appointments under Obama and his immediate predecessors.

Learn more about the work of Sheldon Goldman, Elliot Slotnick, and Sara Schiavoni, and find further links to each scholar's publications. In addition to doing research on selections to the federal courts, Goldman teaches and publishes on Constitutional law and issues of civil liberties. In 2009 he was interviewed for the PBS News Hour about the confirmation process for nominations to the Supreme Court.

September 2013