Welcome to the Oct. 3 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
It is the first Monday in October, dear readers, and we all know what that means. SCOTUS has returned from its summer recess to begin the 2022-2023 October Term in its new incarnation, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson starts her first term on the court. Let’s gavel in, shall we?
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SCOTUS accepted nine new cases to its merits docket on Oct. 3:
- Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools
- Gonzalez v. Google LLC
- In re Grand Jury
- Santos-Zacaria v. Garland
- Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States
- Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh
- Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, Inc.
- Ohio Adjutant General’s Department vs. Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
Click here to learn more about these cases.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 36 cases during its 2022-2023 term. Eighteen cases have been scheduled for argument.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency concerns interpreting the Clean Water Act to decide what land falls within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) wetland regulatory jurisdiction.
- Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (Consolidated with Arkansas v. Delaware) concerns the Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act and the sovereign power of states. Several states sued Delaware in U.S. District Court disputing Delaware’s acquisition of unclaimed funds from MoneyGram official checks. Delaware moved for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the cases. The consolidated cases came under the court’s original jurisdiction, meaning that SCOTUS is the first appellate court to hear the case. The court will decide whether MoneyGram’s official checks are subject to the Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act.
- Merrill v. Milligan (Consolidated with Merrill v. Caster) concerns the Voting Rights Act and redistricting. A group of Alabama voters and organizations sued Secretary of State John Merrill (R) and the House and Senate redistricting chairmen, Rep. Chris Pringle (R) and Sen. Jim McClendon (R). The plaintiffs alleged the congressional map approved by Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Nov. 4, 2021, weakened the electoral strength of Black voters. The plaintiffs asked the lower court to invalidate the enacted congressional map and order a new map with instructions to include a second majority-Black district. Click here to learn more about the cases’ background details.
- Arellano v. McDonough involves 38 U.S.C. § 5110 and the doctrine of equitable tolling. Under 38 U.S.C. § 5110, disability benefits can be awarded retroactively to the date of discharge if a veteran applies within one year of that date. Service-disabled veteran Adolfo Arellano was discharged from the U.S. Navy in October 1981. Approximately 30 years later, he applied for disability compensation benefits. Arellano challenged the effective date of his benefits, arguing the one-year deadline should have been tolled, or paused, because his disability prevented him from applying for benefits earlier. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals rejected the argument. Arellano appealed his case until it reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This court held in a divided 6-6 opinion that Arellano’s effective date was the date his application was received (June 2011), not retroactive to his date of discharge (October 1981). SCOTUS will review and decide when one qualifies for retroactive compensation. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
During the 2021-2022 term, the court agreed to hear 68 cases. Four cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar.
SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition.
Between the 2007 and 2021 terms, SCOTUS issued opinions in 1,128 cases, averaging 75 opinions per year. During that period, the court reversed a lower court decision 805 times (71.4 percent) and affirmed a lower court decision 315 times (27.9 percent).
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- Oct. 3: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- Oct. 4: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- Oct. 7: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court after taking her constitutional oath and her judicial oath on June 30, 2022, in the court’s West Conference Room.
Federal court action
There have been no new nominations since our Sept. 12 edition.
The president has announced 141 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported 11 new nominees out of committee since our last edition.
The following nominees were reported to the full U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote on Sept. 15, 2022:
- Jerry Blackwell to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- Frances Kay Behm to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- Dana Douglas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
- Bradley Garcia to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Anne Nardacci to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
The following nominees were reported on Sept. 30, 2022:
- Cindy Chung to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
- Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to the Third Circuit
- Kelley Hodge to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- John Frank Murphy to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Mia Roberts Perez to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Kai Scott to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The Senate has confirmed four nominees since our Sept. 12 issue.
- Lara Montecalvo to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit on Sept. 14, 2022, by a vote of 52-47.
- Sarah A.L. Merriam to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on Sept. 15, 2022, by a vote of 53-44.
- Florence Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sept. 20, 2022, by a vote of 52-42.
- Arianna Freeman to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on Sept. 29, 2022, by a vote of 50-47.
As of this writing, 84 of President Biden’s Article III nominees have been confirmed since he assumed office.
The federal judiciary currently has 83 vacancies, 81 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of this writing, there were 57 pending nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there were 33 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.
For more information on judicial vacancies during the Biden administration, click here.
Note: This chart is updated at the start of each month with the latest vacancy data from U.S. Courts.
Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.
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.
We’ll be back on Oct. 11 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!
Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter.