Last year, Democrats made it harder for Republicans to derail Obama's nominations by weakening the Senate's rule on filibusters, informs Report citing Foxnews.
So far this year, the chamber has approved 76 federal court of appeals and district court judges, all of them lifetime appointments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is hoping to confirm a dozen more before adjournment later this week — votes he is pushing with the knowledge that the Republicans who control the Senate next year will be less accommodating.
Whatever this year's figure, it will easily surpass the 43 approved last year and the 49 confirmed in 2012. It will also increase Obama's imprint on the federal judiciary, though judges don't always champion the political ideology of the president who picked them.
"He's changed the face of the judiciary," said Russell Wheeler, who studies the judiciary for the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. "Whether or not that will have a long-term impact, I think, is another question."
If the Senate confirms 88 of Obama's judicial selections, that would be the highest number since a Democratic-led Senate approved 99 of President Bill Clinton's appeals and district court nominees in 1994, according to Wheeler.
Several lawmakers said Democrats got a chance to consider more nominees than expected after conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, forced a weekend vote on Obama's executive actions deferring the deportation of millions of immigrants. They said that gave Reid more time to hold votes on nominations.
Cruz spokesman Phil Novack disagreed that Cruz's move gave Reid an opening, writing by email, "Everyone knows Harry Reid planned to jam forward as many nominees as he could."
The 88 judges would mean the Senate would have confirmed 303 federal appeals and district court judges through Obama's six years in office, according to Wheeler. That would be more than Clinton achieved over his first six years, 298.
That would leave just 50 federal appeals and district court vacancies out of 856 judgeships, according to data from the U.S. court system. That's the lowest number of vacancies since December 2008, the month before Obama took office. Vacancies during his presidency peaked at 108 in December 2010.