Federal judgeships are much like ambassadorships which politicians can dole out like party favors to their cronies and fundraisers.
The most recent example of using the federal judicary as a political playground apparently involves New York Senator Charles Schumer securing a nomination for his brother-in-law Kevin McNulty to a New Jersey federal court as reported by Josh Margolin for the New York Post: "'McNulty came out of left field,' said another source involved in the Jersey judicial politics. 'McNulty's not a dumb guy, but people were just, like, 'How'd that happen?'"
Ironically, earlier this month American Bar Association President William T. Robinson III penned an editorial bemoaning the lack of respect by Newt Gingrich for the judiciary: "Abolish courts. Ignore rulings. Impeach judges. These are just a few of the ideas Newt Gingrich has suggested to win over the Republican voters in Iowa."
The Post article notes that this judgeship "carries life tenure."