Obama Influence Will Be Felt in Lower Courts

Supreme Court is likely set, but underlings decide more cases
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2008 7:48 AM CST
The Supreme Court is unlikely to shift to the left anytime soon, but it decides just a small handful of cases.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama isn’t likely to name a Supreme Court justice anytime soon, but he will be shifting the federal judicial balance almost immediately, the Washington Post reports. Democrats currently hold just 36% of appeals court judgeships, but that should jump to 58% by the end of Obama’s first term. These lower appeals courts decide more than 30,000 cases a year; while the Supreme Court hears less than 100.

Liberal groups are already pressing for their preferred nominees, while one conservative advocate called on Republicans “to play hardball” with the nominees. “Judges will be an issue where Obama throws a lot of crumbs to his political base,” the advocate predicted. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, has said he favors judges who are “sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside,” without access to political power.