by Kristine Kippins
In celebration of International Women’s Day, ACS highlights the progress made over the last four years to diversify our federal judiciary.
According to the White House, President Obama has taken great steps to put more women on the bench. With two vacancies on the Supreme Court, Obama filled both spots with women, including the first Latina Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. He appointed the second and third openly gay women to the district courts, Alison Nathan and Pamela Chen. Chen is the first openly gay Asian American on the federal bench. Six district courts have their first female judge ever – AK, E.D. Cal., S.D. Iowa, ME, VT, and Wyo. Shelly Dick will be number seven once installed in the Middle District of Louisiana. Five states can now claim their first female circuit court judge – Alaska, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia. And the first Asian American woman to a circuit court, Jacqueline Nguyen, now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Overall, Obama has placed 74 women on the federal bench, 42 percent of all confirmations, and that same statistic carries through to the percentage of female nominees pending in the Senate. At this point in his presidency, George W. Bush could only boast that 22 percent of his confirmed judges being women.