Bold Justice: Trump appointed second-most federal judges through Sept. 1 of a president’s third year

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

The Supreme Court is currently in recess. The 2019-2020 term begins Oct. 7. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming term.

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts over a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 1 – 28, 2019.


  • Vacancies: There was one new judicial vacancy since the July 2019 report. As of August 28, 103 of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report were vacant—a vacancy percentage of 11.8 percent.

    Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the president appoints Article III judges for what amount to lifetime terms on the federal bench. All such appointments must receive Senate confirmation. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts, and the Court of International Trade.

    Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 112 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

  • Nominations: There were six new nominations since the July 2019 report.

  • Confirmations: There were two new confirmations since the July 2019 report.

Vacancy count for Aug. 28, 2019

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level

New vacancies

One judge left active status, creating an Article III vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Trump’s first term, click here.

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

Vacancy map

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

There are currently four vacancies for U.S. Courts of Appeal judgeships. According to a Ballotpedia analysis of federal court vacancies between April 2011 and August 2019, this is the fewest number of vacant Courts of Appeal judgeships during this time. 

  • The second-lowest was in June 2019, with five vacancies. 
  • The highest number of vacancies—21—was in July, September, and October of 2017.
  • The median number of vacancies was 14.

US Court of Appeals vacancies

Court of Appeals vacancies map 2

New nominations

President Trump announced six new nominations since the July 2019 report. 

  • Steven Menashi, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
  • Jodi Dishman, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Karen Marston, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Richard Myers II, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Sarah Pitlyk, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Anuraag Singhal, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The president has announced 211 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

Since July 31, 2019, the Senate confirmed two of the president’s nominees to Article III courts. 

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 146 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—99 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices. This is the second-most Article III judicial confirmations through this point in a presidency since Theodore Roosevelt. Only Bill Clinton, with 165 judicial appointments, had more.

  • The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through September 1 of their third year in office is 82.

  • The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft’s (R) five appointments were the most among this set. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (D), Jimmy Carter (D), and George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through Sept. 1 of their third year in office. Trump has appointed two justices so far.

  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump has appointed the most with 43. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five each. Trump’s 43 appointments make up 24 percent of the total 179 appeals court judgeships.

  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 56. Clinton appointed the most with 135, and T. Roosevelt appointed the fewest with 10. Trump has appointed 99 district court judges. Those appointments make up 15 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.