President Obama has increased his number of judicial appointments in an attempt to diversify the federal judiciary. Since taking office in January, President Obama has nominated over three dozen candidates compared to his first term where he received criticism for not appointing judges quickly. Of the 35 nominations awaiting Senate approval, 17 are women, 15 are ethnic minorities, and five are openly gay - many of whom would be historic firsts for their states.
White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told reporters "Diversity in and of itself is a thing that is strengthening the judicial system. ... It enhances the bench and the performance of the bench and the quality of the discussion . . . to have different perspectives, different life experiences, different professional experiences, coming from a different station in life, if you will."
President Obama's confirmed federal judicial nominations from his first term were more diverse than both his predecessors, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. 37% percent of his confirmed nominations were non-white compared to 19% and 27% respectively. Also, 42% were women compared to 21% and 30% respectively. President Obama's nominations have also taken significantly longer to be confirmed by the Senate that his predecessors. His first term nominees took 225 days to be confirmed, whereas Bush's nominations took 175 days and Clinton's took 98 days.
There are currently an additional 50 judicial vacancies awaiting nominations. President Obama is expected to make those nominations over the next few months.
Media Resources: ABA Journal 3/4/2013; Washington Post 3/3/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .