Diversity of the Federal Judiciary (publishable)

An Associated Press analysis of Trump’s judicial nominees has found that three of every four so far have been white men – a diversity rate that’s the lowest since the 1980s, with particularly few African Americans and Hispanics represented.

Overall, more than 91 percent of Trump’s nominees have been white – the highest percentage since Reagan.

The diversity figures could set the racial and gender balance of the judiciary back a generation, particularly if Trump continues his high volume of nominations. In less than 10 months, Trump has nominated more federal judges – 58 by the end of October, with 10 already confirmed – than any other president in his first year.

Trump’s lack of nominee diversity could have a stark impact on the court system because of the large number of currently vacant positions: of the 890 federal lifetime appointment judgeships, 150 are currently open – meaning 17% of all positions are available to be filled right now. (citation: http://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/judicial-vacancies)

Context: Reagan had the greatest impact on the judiciary’s makeup, with 383 confirmations. Clinton had 378, Obama 329 and George W. Bush 326. Carter had an unusually high (for one term) 261 confirmations.

By President, 1920-present

This chart is the racial and gender distribution of all lifetime federal judge positions, grouped by president (only warning: some presidents appointed far more judges than others, and this doesn’t capture that). The three most recent Democrats obviously stick out. The table in my analysis that includes all this data is presidentialtable.

If we’re considering diversity as anything but white males, Obama did the best by this measure, with just 36.8 percent of the judges confirmed during his tenure being white men. Nearly 42 percent of Obama-nominated judges are women, compared with about 20 percent for both Bushes (21.8% and 18.7%, respectively) and nearly 30 for Clinton.

Trump has so far nominated 11 women to judgeships, or 19% of all nominees – basically putting him on par with George H.W. Bush, and well ahead of Reagan (8.4%). Of the 10 confirmed Trump nominees, one is a white female. The other nine have been men; eight are white, and one is Indian-American.

Trump nominee diversity comes almost entirely from white women and a few Asian American men and women. Only 1.7% of his nominees so far have been black – a rate that since 1950 bests only Eisenhower, and is equal to Reagan, who had only seven African American judges confirmed during his tenure.

If you’re looking at opportunities for black men in the judiciary – Clinton performed the best, with 12 percent – followed by Carter (also 12%), and then Obama (11%). After that there’s a very steep drop off in that category. Trump has nominated one African American man.

Of the most recent presidents, Reagan’s 86 percent white male judiciary is the least diverse. Once you get past Kennedy, there’s almost no diversity among the nominees, although the first non-white male judge was Genevieve Rose Cline, nominated in 1928 by Calvin Coolidge to be an associate justice to the U.S. Customs Court. Irvin Charles Mollison was the first black judge – a Truman nominee confirmed in 1945 to the U.S. Customs Court. The first non white male U.S. District Judge was another Truman nominee, Burnita Shelton Matthews, confirmed in 1950.