Carl Tobias, law professor at the University of Richmond, says Obama was right to chastise Republicans for their reluctance to move forward on his nominations.
"The obstruction has been unprecedented and the DC Circuit has been the prime example," he says.
Bitterness over failed Bush nominations at the hands of Democrats is driving some of the Republican motivation, Tobias says. But the problem is only getting worse, he adds.
"What is most troubling I think in the Obama years as this has trickled down to the District Court level; it's been a 10 percent vacancy rate almost for four years now and that's just harmful to the coequal branch of government," Tobias says. "I don't know what needs to happen, but the judges are starting to speak out."
Neither expert sees a swift end to the judiciary gridlock.
"I don't think this fight is really about the judiciary as much as it's more a manifestation of the contentious politics," Wheeler says.