Will Election Have "Seismic" Effect on Federal Courts?

The National Law Journal reports on a new Brookings Institution study on how the Presidential election could influence the composition of the federal courts.

Republican presidents have appointed more than half of the current 179 federal appellate judges, but that could rise dramatically to 74 percent if Sen. John McCain wins the presidency, or give Democrats a 56 percent majority in appointments if Sen. Barack Obama prevails, according to a Brookings Institution report issued on Wednesday.

In addition, the report by Russell Wheeler at Brookings, predicts that in four years of an Obama presidency, his appointments could shift Republican dominance on 10 of 11 circuits, to give Democratic appointees a majority in seven circuit courts. Currently, of the 11 circuit courts, only the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has a slight majority of Democrat-appointed judges.

The balance of appointments could put solid Democratic majorities under Obama on the 2nd, the 3rd and the notoriously conservative 4th Circuit, which currently has four vacancies. It would add to the existing Democratic-appointed majorities in the liberal 9th Circuit.

Obama appointees would tip another four courts, the 1st, 7th, 11th and D.C. circuits to slight Democratic-majority appointments.

I didn't see a copy of the report on the Brookings website, but I will post a link when it's available.