Trump has appointed 25 percent of all federal appeals court judges

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, September 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Trump has appointed 25 percent of all federal appeals court judges
  2. Federal Register exceeds 48,000 pages in 2019
  3. 41% of Ballotpedia survey respondents watched the most recent Democratic presidential debate

Trump has appointed 25 percent of all federal appeals court judges

The Senate confirmed six nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships last week, bringing the number of judges appointed by President Trump to 152. That includes two Supreme Court justices, 43 appellate court judges, 105 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges.

Trump’s appointment of 43 appeals court judges by September 1 of the third year of his presidency is the most of any president since 1901. The presidents with the next highest number of appointments at this point in the first term were Richard Nixon—30—and George W. Bush—27. These 43 appointments are equal to 25% of the 175 sitting appeals court judges in the country. 

The thirteen United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system. The eleven numbered circuits and the D.C. Circuit are defined by geography. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears appeals from specialized trial courts—such as the Court of International Trade and the Court of Federal Claims—and appeals relating to patent cases and other specialized matters.

There are currently four appellate court vacancies and Trump has nominated judges for all four. Two nominees are awaiting a full vote in the Senate and two are awaiting committee action.

Court of Appeals vacancies

According to a Ballotpedia analysis of federal court vacancies, this is the fewest number of vacant Courts of Appeal judgeships from April 2011 and August 2019. The highest number of vacancies—21—was in July, September, and October of 2017. 

Of the 175 appeals court judges currently serving, 94 were appointed by Republican presidents and 84 were appointed by Democratic ones. Seven appeals courts have a majority of Democratic-appointed judges, and five have a majority of Republican-appointed justices. One appeals court—the 11th Circuit—is split between Democratic- and Republican-appointed judges. It has two vacancies.

Current judges

Since 1901, Ronald Reagan appointed the most appeals court judges during his presidency—78.

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Federal Register exceeds 48,000 pages in 2019 

From time to time I like to feature our coverage of the Federal Register here in the Brew. We track this regularly at Ballotpedia, but I haven’t provided an update in a few months.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity. We monitor page counts and other information about the Federal Register each week as part of our Administrative State Project. 

Last week, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,432 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 48,546 pages. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,305 pages for a year-to-date total of 46,848 pages. As of September 13, the 2019 total was more than the 2018 total by 1,698 pages.

The week’s Federal Register featured 544 documents, including 413 notices, eight presidential documents, 35 proposed rules, and 88 final rules. This is the second-highest weekly number of final rules so far in 2019. The median number of federal rules published each week in the Federal Register this year is 59. 

The Trump administration has added an average of 1,312 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of July 19. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.

Our Administrative State Project includes information about the administrative and regulatory activities of the United States government as well as concepts, laws, court cases, executive orders, scholarly work, and other material related to the administrative state.  

You can get an introduction to some of these principles by taking one of our Learning Journeys, which give you a series of daily emails with information, examples, and exercises to help you broaden your knowledge of a particular concept. We have ten Learning Journeys—covering topics such as Chevron deference, judicial review and the Congressional Review Act. Click here to get started on one today.

And to stay up to date on actions at both the federal and state level related to rulemaking, the separation of powers, and due process, subscribe to our monthly Checks and Balances newsletter.

41% of Ballotpedia survey respondents watched the most recent Democratic presidential debate

The Democratic National Committee held their third presidential debate this year last week in Texas. Our What’s the Tea? question on Friday asked whether you watched: 

Debate watching results