When President Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009, the federal appeals court based in Virginia was known as one of the most conservative benches in the country.

Two terms later, Democratic appointees hold a 10-5 majority on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of which issued a groundbreaking ruling in April backing transgender rights.

The shift to the left on the court — which hears cases from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina — highlights a widely overlooked aspect of Obama's legacy.