The first 6 months of judicial nominations under President Biden

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency
  2. Making sense of the filing deadline for Newsom recall 
  3. Rhode Island ends statewide mask mandate

Federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency

Today is the six-month anniversary of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration. Let’s take a look at how his first six months of judicial nominations compare to those of the past six presidents. For the full data that ran in our Bold Justice newsletter, or to subscribe, click here.

Let’s specifically take a closer look at vacancies, nominations, and confirmations.


  • Biden inherited 46 Article III lifetime federal judicial vacancies requiring a presidential nomination when he was inaugurated on Jan. 20. 
    • These vacancies represented roughly one-twentieth of all life-term judicial positions (5.29%). 
  • The 46 vacancies were the lowest number of federal judicial vacancies at the beginning of a presidency since 1989, when George H.W. Bush had 37.
  • Since 1981, every president has had more judicial vacancies six months into his administration than at the start of his administration.
  • The number of judicial vacancies created during Biden’s first six months in office is the second-highest in our data (28), and is equal to the number of vacancies created during President George W. Bush’s first six months (28). President Barack Obama had the highest number of judicial vacancies during his first six months as president, with 29.

There are currently 78 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of 870 total Article III judgeships. 


  • Since taking office, President Biden has nominated 30 individuals to federal judgeships.
  • Biden has submitted nominations to fill more than 38% of federal judicial vacancies during his first six months in office. This is the highest percentage since George W. Bush, and the most since 1981. President Bill Clinton (D) had the lowest percentage among the presidents since Reagan, submitting no Article III nominations during his first six months in office.


  • Biden has the highest number of judicial confirmations in the first six months of his presidency (7) since 1981. Neither President Clinton nor President Obama had any nominations confirmed by this point in their presidencies. President Donald Trump (R) is the only president since at least 1981 to have a Supreme Court, a circuit court, and a district court nominee confirmed in his first six months in office.

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Filing deadline for Newsom recall passes, 41 candidates qualify

We’ve been watching the election to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, which will be held on Sept. 14. The filing deadline to get on the ballot passed on July 16. Let’s catch up on the most recent news.

On July 17, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) announced that 41 candidates had qualified to run in the recall election. The list of candidates includes eight Democrats and 21 Republicans, among whom are former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), and Caitlyn Jenner (R).

On Wednesday, July 21, the California secretary of state’s office will release to the counties the final list of candidates who will appear on the ballot.

Before the July 16 filing deadline, 76 candidates had filed paperwork with Weber’s office stating their intention to run in the election. In the successful 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D), 135 candidates ran in the election.

Newsom was elected as governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Davis and chose Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.

For a full overview of the election, keep reading at the link below.

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Rhode Island ends statewide mask mandate

On July 6, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) signed an executive order ending the statewide mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In accordance with CDC guidelines, vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Currently, seven states have statewide mask orders. All seven states have Democratic governors. Six of the seven states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.

We’re tracking mask mandates and much more in our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter. Click the link below to sign up.

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