George W. Bush's two appointments tilted the Supreme Court to the right—but it's at the appellate level where his judicial legacy is greatest. The president has appointed fully a third of all appeals court judges, and Republican appointees now control 10 of the 13 circuits. The result, writes the New York Times, is a conservative legal revolution with consequences for everything from abortion laws to civil rights.
It's not abnormal for a two-term president to appoint so many judges, but Bush's effort to nominate young jurists means they will be on the bench for decades. Moreover, the Supreme Court under Rehnquist and Roberts has taken on far fewer cases than a generation ago—giving appeals courts the last word. Vetted by elite conservative organizations like the Federalist Society, Bush's appointments, said one lawyer, are "a very different type of judge."