American presidents for more than three decades have enjoyed judicial confirmation rates near or above 80 percent. This pattern persists across both Democratic and Republican administrations, and it includes presidents who presided over a period of unified government (Jimmy Carter), presidents whose party did not at any point control the Senate during their presidency (George Bush I), and presidents who saw the Senate change hands during their presidency (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George Bush II).
President Obama’s 42.8 percent confirmation rate is only slightly more than half of President George H.W. Bush’s 79.3 percent, even though President Bush presided over a period of divided government while Obama has thus far enjoyed unified governance.
Indeed, Obama’s confirmation rates are even lower than those during the very unusual 107th Congress when President George W. Bush’s transition period was cut short, in part because the Supreme Court did not hand down its Bush v. Gore decision until mid-December, thus limiting the time he had to plan for judicial confirmations. Congress also changed from Republican to Democratic control partway through the 107th Congress, further delaying routine business as the Senate completed administrative tasks associated with its transition. Nevertheless, fully 52 percent of President Bush’s nominees had been confirmed at this point in his presidency—nine percentage points higher than Obama’s 42.8 percent confirmation rate.
Here's what that actually looks like:
In a call Friday with reporters, Millhiser stressed that, under the rules by with the Senate operates, to get the 48 pending nominees confirmed, the Senate would have to do nothing else for the next 120 days, working around the clock, 24/7. The vast majority of the nominees that are being held up are not controversial. In fact, Doug Kendall, of the Constitutional Accountability Center, pointed out in the call that Obama has gone out of his way to include Republican Senators in his selection process, finding judges that the homestate Republican Senators will support. But none of them will support those nominees at the risk of bucking their leadership.
What this means practically, beyond the need for filibuster reform, is that justice is being delayed across the country at an alarming rate. The American Constitution Society has compiled the vacancies, region by region, in an interactive map. Without those seats filled, justice is being delayed, and effectively denied, across the nation.