When Governor Clinton was campaigning for the presidency, he contended that the federal court appointments of President Ronald Reagan and President George Bush significantly reduced the diversity that President Jimmy Carter had strongly promoted. Candidate Clinton pledged, if elected President, to rectify that situation. Since the election, Bill Clinton has fulfilled his promise by naming to the judiciary outstanding attorneys who reflect the diverse composition of American society. Now that President Clinton has completed his initial year of service, it is important to analyze the Clinton Administration's record of choosing judges to ascertain precisely how the President has kept his covenant. This article undertakes that effort by focusing on the appointment of women to the federal bench.
This article first considers the recent history of federal judicial selection, emphasizing the objectives and practices followed in naming judges, as well as the numbers and percentages of women and minorities actually placed on the courts, by the Carter, Reagan, and Bush Administrations. This article then evaluates the numbers and percentages of female and minority federal judges appointed and nominated, and the judicial selection goals and procedures employed, during the Clinton Administration's opening year in office.
This article finds that President Clinton appointed and nominated unprecedented numbers and percentages of women and minorities, although the Senate did not consider for confirmation two-fifths of his nominees. This article also ascertains that the Clinton Administration prudently and systematically instituted an efficacious selection process, as illustrated by the noncontroversial elevation of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court. Determining that those policies and practices which facilitate the appointment of large numbers and percentages of women and minorities were implemented, this article explains why President Clinton should continue naming many female and minority federal judges and affords suggestions for attaining this objective.
Carl Tobias, Keeping the Covenant on the Federal Courts, 47 SMU L. Rev. 1861 (1993)