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After ObamaAfrican American Politics in a Post-Obama Era$
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Todd Shaw, Robert A. Brown, and Joseph P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479807277

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479807277.001.0001

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Black Federal Judges and Civil Rights in the Age of Obama

Black Federal Judges and Civil Rights in the Age of Obama

(p.201) 7 Black Federal Judges and Civil Rights in the Age of Obama
After Obama

Shenita Brazelton

Dianne M. Pinderhughes

NYU Press

We examine the demographics of the federal judiciary and the impact President Obama had on diversifying the federal bench. We discuss the record-breaking number of women and minorities Obama appointed to federal courts at all levels. Considering the historic and current struggles of African Americans in attaining civil rights, we focus our discussion on the appointment of Black federal judges. We highlight the historic firsts for African American appointees and the continuing need for Black federal judges, particularly in the South. We also discuss the inclusionary dilemma in the context of President Obama’s selections for staffing the federal judiciary. We discuss Obama’s decision not to appoint a third African American justice to the Supreme Court, but we examine his record-breaking number of African American appointments to the lower federal courts. Despite these historic appointments, President Obama’s appointment power was not unfettered. In the end, we assess the impact of Obama’s appointees in view of voting rights litigation. Voting rights are particularly pertinent for racial minorities who have been historically denied these rights but have made gains in electing minorities to public office. In the conclusion, we discuss the racial implications of the Trump administration’s attempts to reverse Obama’s judicial legacy.

Keywords:   Obama administration, federal judiciary, Black judicial appointments, voting rights litigation, courts

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