Welcome to the June 7 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
Argument sessions may be in SCOTUS’ rearview mirror, but the court is rolling through opinion season before cruising into its summer recess. So let’s open the sunroof, turn up the jams, and hit the road.
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SCOTUS accepted four cases to its merits docket since our May 10 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear 18 cases for the upcoming 2021-2022 term, scheduled to begin on October 4, 2021.
- Badgerow v. Walters concerns the federal courts’ jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act. Badgerow originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
- Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concerns the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities. The case is a direct challenge to the court’s decision in the case Roe v. Wade (1973). The question presented is “[w]hether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Dobbs originated from the 5th Circuit.
- Shinn v. Ramirez concerns the scope of evidence a federal appellate court can consider when reviewing a petition for habeas relief. The question presented is “[d]oes application of the equitable rule this Court announced in Martinez v. Ryan render 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) inapplicable to a federal court’s merits review of a claim for habeas relief?” Shinn originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
- Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP concerns copyright infringement claims involving fabric designs. The question presented to the court is “[d]id the Ninth Circuit err in breaking with its own prior precedent and the findings of other circuits and the Copyright Office in holding that 17 U.S.C. § 411 requires referral to the Copyright Office where there is no indicia of fraud or material error as to the work at issue in the subject copyright registration?” Unicolors originated from the 9th Circuit.
SCOTUS has issued opinions in 10 cases since our May 10 issue. The court has issued 42 opinions so far in this term. Seven cases were decided without argument. Of the cases that were argued during the term, 22 have yet to be decided.
Click the links below to review the court’s rulings in the most recently decided cases:
May 17, 2021
- Edwards v. Vannoy
- BP P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore
- CIC Services v. Internal Revenue Service
- Caniglia v. Strom
May 24, 2021
May 27, 2021
June 1, 2021
- Garland v. Dai (Consolidated with Garland v. Alcaraz-Enriquez)
- United States v. Cooley
June 3, 2021
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- June 7: SCOTUS will release orders.
- June 10: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
- June 14: SCOTUS will release orders.
- June 17: SCOTUS will conference.
- June 21: SCOTUS will release orders.
- June 24: SCOTUS will conference.
- June 28: SCOTUS will release orders.
Only one U.S. President has also served as a Supreme Court justice. Who was it?
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The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 1 to June 1.
- Vacancies: There have been six new judicial vacancies since the April 2021 report. There are 82 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, 85 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
- Nominations: There have been six new nominations since the April 2021 report.
- Confirmations: There have been no new confirmations since the April 2021 report.
Vacancy count for June 1, 2021
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.
*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.
Six judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, the president nominates individuals to fill the vacancies. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
- Judge Ursula Ungaro assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
- Judge Thomas Thrash assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
- Judge Evan Wallach assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Judge Anthony Trenga assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Judge Petrese Tucker assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Judge Denny Chin assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies in the United States Courts of Appeals from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.
U.S. District Court vacancies
The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of June 1, 2021.
President Joe Biden (D) has announced six new nominations since the April 2021 report.
- Gustavo Gelpí, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
- Eunice Lee, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
- Veronica Rossman, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
- Angel Kelley, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- Karen Williams, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Lauren King, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
As of June 1, 2021, there have been no federal judicial confirmations during the Biden administration.
As of June 1 of the first year of President Donald Trump’s (R) presidency, the U.S. Senate had confirmed two of Trump’s Article III judicial nominees.
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, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.
Hello, gentle readers! We resume our travels through federal judicial history via TWA flight and, oh my, is that a space race going on? Today’s edition of Bold Justice highlights President John F. Kennedy’s (D) federal judicial nominees from 1961 to 1963.
One hundred twenty-five of President Kennedy’s judicial nominees were confirmed. The U.S. Senate did not vote on 23 of the nominees. Among the most notable appointees were Supreme Court Justices Arthur Goldberg and Byron White. Both justices were nominated and commissioned in 1962.
President Kennedy’s first Article III appointee was confirmed on March 3, 1961—Judge William McRae to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. By the end of his first year in office, 56 of Kennedy’s nominees had been confirmed–11 to U.S. circuit court judgeships and 45 to U.S. district court seats. Kennedy averaged 44 judicial appointments per year. For comparison, President Jimmy Carter (D) had the highest average from 1901 to 2021 with 65.5 appointments per year.
We’ll be back on July 12 with a new edition of Bold Justice. Until then, gaveling out!
Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Brittony Maag, Jace Lington, and Sara Reynolds.