Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for December

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies to all United States Article III federal courts from December 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vacancies: There have been no new judicial vacancies since the November 2020 report. There are 46 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 49 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

Nominations: There were no new nominations since the November 2020 report.

Confirmations: There have been seven new confirmations since the November 2020 report.

New vacancies

There were 46 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 5.3.

  • The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
  • Two (1.1%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.
  • 43 (6.4%) of the 673 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.*
  • One (11.1%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions is vacant.

*District court count does not include territorial courts.

No judges left active status, which would create Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at Trump’s inauguration and as of December 31, 2020.

New nominations

Trump has not announced any new nominations since the November 2020 report.

New confirmations

Since December 1, 2020, the United States Senate has confirmed seven of Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. 

  • Taylor McNeel, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.
  • J. Philip Calabrese, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
  • Thomas Kirsch, confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
  • Katherine Crytzer, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
  • Joseph Dawson, confirmed to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
  • Charles Atchley, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
  • Fernando Aenlle-Rocha, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

As of January 4, 2021, the Senate has confirmed 234 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—174 district court judges, 54 appeals court judges, three Court of International Trade judges, and three Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

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About the author

Kate Carsella

Kate Carsella is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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