Congress is in session
The House is in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.
Members of Congress not seeking re-election in 2022
Twenty-nine members of Congress—five members of the U.S. Senate and 24 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Seventeen members—five senators and 12 representatives—have announced their retirement. All five retiring Senate members are Republicans, and of the retiring House members, eight are Democrats and four are Republicans.
SCOTUS is in session
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in five cases next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.
Where was the president last week?
On Monday, Biden delivered the Leader Statement at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks on global forest preservation, the Build Back Better World initiative, the Global Methane Pledge, and clean technology at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
On Wednesday through Friday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
- 76 federal judicial vacancies
- 20 pending nominations
- 30 future federal judicial vacancies
Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies
According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 30 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Oct. 13, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Cynthia Rufe announced that she would assume senior status on Dec. 31, 2021. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Nov. 10, when Holmes assumes senior status.
For historical comparison, the week of Nov. 1-7, 2020, there were 66 federal judicial vacancies and three upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.
Biden has appointed most federal judges through Nov. 1 of a president’s first year
President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 28 Article III federal judges through Nov. 1 of his first year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 11 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Nov. 1 of their first year in office is 13.
- The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Four presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump) made one appointment. Three presidents (H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Biden) had not appointed any.
- The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is three. Biden appointed the most with nine. Obama appointed the fewest with one.
- The median number of United States District Court appointees is six. Biden appointed the most with 19. Obama appointed the fewest with three.
Dale Holness, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick lead in Florida’s 20th Congressional District Democratic primary
The Democratic primary in Florida’s 20th Congressional District remains too close to call.
A special election is taking place Jan. 11 in the Miami-area district last represented by Alcee Hastings (D). Hastings died on April 6, 2021. He last won re-election with 79% of the vote in 2020, meaning the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to win the general election.
As of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 4, Dale Holness led the 11-candidate field with 23.8% of the vote, followed by Shelia Cherfilus-McCormick with 23.7%. Twelve votes out of the nearly 50,000 cast separated them.
Under Florida law, a machine recount is required if the initial election night result is within 0.5 percentage points. If the machine recount results in a margin within 0.25 percentage points, a manual recount occurs.
CDC authorizes use of Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year-olds
On Nov. 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11 after its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the approval in a 14-0 panel vote, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved for that age group.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved emergency use authorization of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11 on Oct. 29, after its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted to recommend the authorization in a 17-0 vote on Oct. 26.
In a press release, the CDC said it began distributing pediatric vaccinations this week and planned to scale to full capacity by the week of Nov. 8.
On Nov. 4, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a congressional map into law. The House voted 65-38 in favor of the congressional map on Nov. 1 followed by the Senate voting 22-7 on Nov. 3. The Montgomery Advertiser‘s Brian Lyman wrote that under the maps Republicans could maintain control of six of the state’s seven congressional districts, adding, “The new maps do not significantly alter the existing districts, and do not give the GOP many opportunities to extend their majorities further.” The congressional and legislative maps will take effect for Alabama’s 2022 elections.
On Nov. 1, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously approved the congressional redistricting plan that the state’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved on Sept. 28. The map will take effect for Colorado’s 2022 congressional elections.
Eleven of the twelve commissioners approved the congressional plan. Four unaffiliated members, four Republican members, and three of the four Democratic members voted in favor. The maps required approval from at least eight members, including two unaffiliated members.
The North Carolina General Assembly enacted a congressional redistricting proposal on Nov. 4. Governors do not have veto power over new maps in North Carolina, so it became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. The congressional map was approved by the Senate 27-22 on Nov. 2, and the House 65-49 on Nov. 4. Rep. Destin Hall (R), chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said redistricting this cycle was “the most transparent process in the history of this state.” Democratic members of the legislature criticized the new maps, with Rep. Kandie Smith (D) saying: “When I look at these congressional maps – they stink. People don’t want gerrymandering. That’s what we have.” At least one lawsuit has been filed challenging the maps, which, barring a successful legal challenge, will take effect for North Carolina’s 2022 elections.
On Nov. 2, Texas Democratic lawmakers filed two federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the state’s newly enacted redistricting maps. Members of the Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed one court challenge, and State Sen. Beverly Powell (D) along with six Tarrant County voters filed another.
The 41-member Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed a lawsuit against the state with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in which the caucus members said the newly enacted maps “discriminate on the basis of race and impermissibly dilute the vote of Latino populations.”
Sen. Powell and six Tarrant County voters filed a federal lawsuit in the same federal court in which they said the new Senate map involved a “racially discriminatory scheme to dismantle Senate District 10 (“SD10”) as a performing crossover district for Tarrant County’s minority voters that a federal court declared intentionally discriminatory last decade.
SCOTUS begins November argument sitting
On Nov. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) began its November argument sitting of the 2021-2022 term. The court is hearing arguments in person and providing audio livestreams of arguments.
This week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and asks the court to consider: “[W]hether a State can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil actions.”
- United States v. Texas also originated from the Fifth Circuit and asks the court to consider: “May the United States bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the state, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced.”
- Houston Community College System v. Wilson asks the court to consider: “Does the First Amendment restrict the authority of an elected body to issue a censure resolution in response to a member’s speech?” The case originated from the Fifth Circuit.
- Badgerow v. Walters originates from the Fifth Circuit and concerns “Whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the [Federal Arbitration Act] where the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question.”
- New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and asks SCOTUS to consider “Whether the State’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.”
Next week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases.