I e-mailed Ed Whelan my post on the L.A. Times‘s distortion of statistics on judicial confirmation rates. Whelan followed up, and now provides evidence that Carol J. Williams, a reporter who once so badly botched an analysis of a court decision that the paper ran a four-paragraph correction, screwed the pooch again in her recent article where she said:
Obama’s judicial confirmation rate is the lowest since analysts began detailed tracking the subject 30 years ago, with 47% of his 85 nominations winning Senate approval so far. That compares with 87% confirmed during the first 18 months of the previous administration, 84% for President Clinton, 79% for President George H.W. Bush and 93% for President Reagan.
Let me turn the bullhorn over to Whelan:
The article’s assertion that President George W. Bush had 87% of his early judicial nominees “confirmed during the first 18 months of [his] administration” struck me as farfetched. And it turns out that it is wildly wrong. Specifically (by my quick count, which may not be perfect but should be very close), President Bush nominated some 112 judges during his first 18 months (32 to the courts of appeals and 80 to the district courts), and 64 of these (13* to the courts of appeals and 51 to the district courts) were confirmed during the first 18 months of his administration. That yields an overall figure of 57%, not 87% (and the figure for the courts of appeals was just under 41%).
I think we’ve reached the point where an e-mail to the Readers’ Representative is called for. Who wants to handle it? firstname.lastname@example.org. If you send anything, copy me.