The Baltimore Sun has an interesting report on the shift in the ideological bent of the 4th circuit, which covers the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states:
When Obama took office, the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, Va., had 11 sitting judges — six Republican appointees and five Democratic picks — and four vacancies.
The spots were left open because the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate of 2007 and 2008 refused to approve President George W. Bush's 4th Circuit appointments, including Rod J. Rosenstein, who had been named Maryland's U.S. attorney a few years earlier based on a Bush recommendation.
The inaction on judicial nominations paved the way for Obama to make an impact with his choices, which have focused on diversifying federal courts based on race, gender and sexual orientation. Since he took office, two more vacancies opened on the 4th Circuit, allowing him to nominate six people in total. Five have been approved: a woman, two black men, a Latino, and a white man.
That makes the split on the court nine Democratic appointments to five Republican. Another Obama pick, Stephanie Thacker, was nominated this year and is awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
The new makeup could have an effect on national policy, given the kinds of cases handled by this court, legal analysts said.
Once again, we are paying for the tepid leadership of the Republican Senate during the middle of the decade.