This morning's Washington Post takes up the question of the federal appellate courts, then, now and circa 2012, which is to say, what will be the likely impact of four years of Obama appointments. A companion piece examines the Sixth Circuit in greater detail, a bench where ideological warfare has seemingly become commonplace.
Most salient points and basic numbers -
Today's U.S. Courts of Appeals (the level just below the Supreme Court, where the vast majority of appellate cases end, since the Supreme Court grants so few reviews):
106 Republican appointees
66 Democratic appointees
Projections for 2012, taking into account the likely creation of new judgeships:
112 Democratic appointees
81 Republican appointees
Sweetest take back – the prospect of Obama filling four vacancies on the hard-right Fourth Circuit, a court that one Republican lawyer quoted by the Post described as "Shangri La" for corporate America.