President Obama has reshaped the federal courts for decades to come with a record number of women and minorities appointed to lifetime judgeships, despite losing his high-profile battle over the U.S. Supreme Court this year.
Along the way, the president has turned nine of the 13 key federal appeals courts into majority-Democrat courts. When he came into office in 2009, only one of the circuit courts was majority Democrat.
“His picks were undeniably very liberal, very friendly to his approach toward the administrative state, particularly in an administration that was trying to find ways of doing business that didn’t involve having to get the approval of the elected branch,” Ms. Severino said. “He used the administrative state very aggressively, and I think that was why the D.C. Circuit was such a big priority for him.”
University of Richmond law school professor Carl Tobias said Mr. Obama’s influence on the D.C. Circuit Court will be “one of the most important legacies he has.” Judge Pillard, at age 55, is the oldest of the four Obama appointees on that court.
“That’s the second most important court in the country,” Mr. Tobias said. “The cases it gets are so critical, regulatory cases with huge stakes for industry and for people. Also, it’s a springboard for the Supreme Court.”