There are 75 vacancies in the federal judiciary with 42 to come

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 9, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. There are 75 vacancies in the federal judiciary with 42 to come
  2. Here’s what’s on the ballot in Vermont
  3. Previewing the Republican primary in Wyoming’s At-large Congressional District

There are 75 vacancies in the federal judiciary with 42 to come

There are currently 75 vacancies on the federal judicial bench and another 42 judges are slated to retire or assume senior status in the weeks ahead.

These vacancies are for Article III judgeships, a term used to describe judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court of International Trade, courts of appeal, and district courts.

Article III judgeships are lifetime presidential appointments. All nominees are subject to Senate confirmation.

As of Aug. 1, Biden had nominated 130 individuals to Article III judgeships. Fifty-six are in the confirmation process and 74 had been confirmed.

When looking at presidents since Ronald Reagan (R), Biden is tied with former President Bill Clinton (D) for the most Article III appointments made through Aug. 1 of the second year in office.

With the upcoming vacancies, the president and the Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before starting the confirmation process for a successor. For example, Biden nominated Bradley Garcia to replace Judge Judith Rogers on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit once Rodgers assumes senior status on Sept. 1.

There are currently 18 nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

We don’t know when each vacancy will take place. Twenty-six judges did not announce a specific date when they will leave the bench. The next scheduled vacancy is Aug. 13, when Judge Gershwin Drain assumes senior status on the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

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Here’s what’s on the ballot in Vermont

Four states—Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin—are holding primaries today, Aug. 9. We’ve previewed the primaries in all of those states but one: Vermont. 

Vermont is one of 34 states holding U.S. Senate elections this year and one of seven where that seat is open. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), first elected in 1974, is retiring. Both Democrats and Republicans are holding contested primaries to select their nominees for the general election.

The open U.S. Senate race led to another opening, this one in the state’s at-large U.S. House district. U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D), first elected in 2006, is one of the three Democrats running to succeed Leahy. 

All six of the state executive offices elected statewide are on the ballot this year. Two incumbents—Gov. Phil Scott (R) and Auditor Doug Hoffer (D)—are on the ballot, with the remaining four positions open. Democrats are holding three contested primaries and Republicans are holding two.

All 180 state legislative seats—30 in the Senate and 150 in the House—are also on the ballot. 

Regardless of how the primaries turn out, we already know that at least 32% of the Legislature will be made up of newcomers next year. This is because 57 seats are currently open, meaning no incumbents are running. This is the largest number of open seats in the past five election cycles.

Democrats currently hold a 21-7 majority in the Senate and a 91-56 majority in the House, with the remaining seats either vacant or held by minor party/independent officeholders.

Vermont is one of 13 states with a divided government and one of three—along with Maryland and Massachusetts—where Republicans control the governorship and Democrats control both chambers of the legislature.

If you have primaries coming up, use Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup to see what’s on your ballot and bring your choices to the polls with our My Vote app!

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Previewing the Republican primary in Wyoming’s At-large Congressional District

For today’s preview of upcoming battleground primaries, we are looking at the Republican primary in Wyoming’s At-large Congressional District. Here’s what you need to know.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R) is running for re-election and faces challengers Anthony Bouchard, Harriet Hageman, Robyn Belinkskey, and Denton Knapp.

This is the final Republican primary featuring an incumbent—Cheney—who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump (R) following the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Cheney is also the only Republican seeking re-election this year who is a member of the select committee formed to investigate the events on and leading up to Jan. 6, 2021.

Cheney said she is “proud of [her] strong conservative record,” adding, “It is tragic that some in this race have sacrificed those principles, and their duty to the people of Wyoming, out of fear and in favor of loyalty to a former president.”

Trump endorsed Hageman, an attorney and legal consultant, in the primary. Hageman said, “Wyoming is entitled to a representative in Congress who remembers who sent her there and remembers what their wishes are … Liz Cheney is doing neither, and I will do both.”

A July 15 poll found Hageman leading Cheney 52% to 30% with 11% undecided. Wyoming effectively has an open primary system, where voters can choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary on Election Day.

Five primaries featuring Republican incumbents who voted to impeach Trump in 2021 have already occurred.

Two incumbents lost to primary challengers Trump endorsed. Both incumbents ran in partisan primaries—similar to Wyoming’s—which are limited to voters participating in either a Democratic or Republican primary.

Two incumbents advanced to the general election and one remains in an uncalled primary. These three incumbents ran in top-two primaries, where every candidate appears on the same primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation, and the top-two finishers advance to the general election.

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