In a deliberate strategy designed to save political capital, President Obama has nominated dozens fewer federal judges than either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton did in their first terms, potentially greatly reducing his long-term judicial impact on the United States, reports the New York Times. So far, Obama has appointed 125 federal district court judges, compared to Clinton's 170 and Bush's 162 at similar points in their first terms. In addition, Obama's picks have been on average four years older than Bush's and more moderate, further reducing his impact.
"The White House in that first year did not want to nominate candidates who would generate rancorous disputes over social issues that would further polarize the Senate," says Gregory B. Craig, Obama’s first White House counsel. Nevertheless, Republicans often used Senate procedures to significantly delay even uncontroversial nominees. Defenders point out that Obama has nominated two Supreme Court justices already, the same number Clinton and Bush did over their two terms in office, and Obama's 30 appeals court judges is about the same as his predecessors. (Read more President Obama stories.)