Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
With Obama's two Supreme Court nominations (Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan), he has doubled the number of women who have served on the United States Supreme Court.
Today, the Senate officially confirmed Elena Kagan as the 112th Supreme Court Justice with a vote of 63-37 (only five Republicans supported her confirmation). Despite criticism that she has not served as a judge before, Kagan's broad legal experience (including serving as U.S. solicitor general and dean of Harvard Law School) convinced many that her capabilities could be transferred to the courtroom. Still, not all were convinced: Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, voted against Kagan's confirmation due to her lack of judicial experience.
Kagan's confirmation makes her only the 4th woman to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court; since Sandra Day O'Connor retired in 2006, Kagan becomes the 3rd female currently serving on the court.
Yet while the two Supreme Court vacancies under the Obama administration were met with fairly bloodless confirmations, there are a number of lower-court vacancies across the country in which the nominees have not been confirmed.
A recent article by the Center for American Progress points out there are an unprecedented number of lower-court nominations which have been stalled through filibuster or other obstructionary tactics. In fact, the Obama administration's percentage of confirmed nominees is far lower than any other President in the past thirty years, an astounding 42.8% compared to George W. Bush's 86.8% of confirmed nominees. As a result, there are 97 vacancies in the lower courts. These courts, which oversee thousands of cases versus the dozens the U.S. Supreme Court decides, are crucial to the country's justice system. Now that the newsmaking high-court position has been filled, many experts agree the lower-court vacancies must become the next priority.