It's been over a year since Americans elected Barack Obama, but we're still living in George Bush's world – two wars, a recession, a deficit, and so much more.
President Obama has his hands full cleaning up these messes and establishing a legacy on healthcare and climate change. I get that. But there's one blind spot that he can't afford to ignore any longer.
We're living under the rule of George Bush's judges. He picked over 40% of all current federal judges. We're talking about lifetime appointees, and so few cases ever make it to the Supreme Court that they usually get the last word.
Bush's judicial legacy didn't happen by accident, or overnight. He made it a priority. The numbers are telling: as Obama approaches the end of his first year, he’s picked roughly 30 nominees, 11 of whom have been confirmed. By the end of his first year, Bush had nominated 65, and nearly 30 had been confirmed.
To be sure, Republicans have been obstructing Obama's nominees at every turn – that's why so few have been confirmed. But Obama has played into their hands by not nominating more people, which would throw their obstruction into sharp relief and amp up pressure on the GOP.
I know it might not seem this way – in the midst of the healthcare fight – but Obama's legacy, the future of progressive legislation, and the well-being of our nation depend on the character, and quantity, of the judges he nominates. This issue deserves equal billing with the others at the very top of the administration's agenda.
The good news is that, unlike with many problems we face, Obama can ramp up nominations without sacrificing progress on his other priorities. There is no shortage of highly qualified – and progressive – nominees, and Senate Democrats can crush judicial filibusters when they set their mind to it.
The bottom line is that Obama may never have another opportunity like the present, with 60 Democrats in the Senate, to push through his nominees and return some balance to the judicial branch. And he has only four or so months before the 2010 election season causes the Senate to grind to a halt.
President Obama, your legacy clock is ticking. We need you to act now.