Welcome to the Oct. 11 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
Hello again, gentle readers! It is October and we are in the midst of apple-picking, pie-making, scaring each other and ourselves, and the first argument sitting of the new SCOTUS term. Let’s gavel in, shall we?
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Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted no new cases to its merits docket.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 36 cases during its 2022-2023 term.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
- National Pork Producers Council v. Ross concerns whether California Proposition 12’s requirements for pork producers to sell pork in the state are constitutional. For more information on the case’s background, click here.
- Reed v. Goertz concerns a split between the U.S. circuit courts on when the statute of limitations begins to run for a criminal defendant to file a federal claim for DNA testing of crime-scene evidence. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
- Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith concerns copyright law, specifically the Copyright Act’s fair use defense. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
- Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt concerns the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the legal statute 29 CFR § 541.601, which says certain high-earning employees are exempt from overtime pay. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
The court’s November argument sitting begins on Oct. 31. The court will hear arguments in 10 cases.
Eighteen cases have not yet been added to the argument calendar.
SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition.
The Federal Vacancy Count
The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period.
The Oct. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Sept. 2 through Oct. 1. The U.S. Courts data used for this report is published on the first of each month and covers the previous month.
- Vacancies: There were six new judicial vacancies. There were 83 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 85 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.
- Nominations: There were nine new nominations.
- Confirmations: There were eight new confirmations.
Vacancy count for Oct. 1, 2022
A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies in 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. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
- Judge Ricardo Martinez assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Judge Sal Mendoza, Jr. was elevated from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
- Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam was elevated from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
- Judge Florence Pan was elevated from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- Judge Robert David Mariani assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- Judge Claire Eagan assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
The following chart compares the number of vacancies on the United States Courts of Appeals on the date of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration to vacancies on Oct. 1.
U.S. District Court vacancies
The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of Oct. 1, 2022.
President Biden announced nine new nominations:
- Anthony Johnstone to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Charnelle Bjelkengren to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
- Gordon Gallagher to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
- Jonathan Grey to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- Colleen Lawless to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- Orelia Merchant to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- P. Casey Pitts to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- Ramon Reyes, Jr. to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- Arun Subramanian to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
The president has announced 141 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The U.S. Senate confirmed eight nominees:
- John Z. Lee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
- Andre Mathis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
- Jennifer Rearden to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- Sal Mendoza, Jr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
- Lara Montecalvo to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
- Sarah A.L. Merriam to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
- Florence Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Arianna Freeman to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
As of Oct. 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 84 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—58 district court judges, 25 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.
Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)
- Presidents have appointed an average of 75 judges through Oct. 1 of their second year in office.
- President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Oct. 1 of his second year with 100. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 43.
- President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.
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 this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.
We’ll be back on Oct. 31 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel to herald in the new SCOTUS term. Until then, gaveling out!
Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter with contributions from Caitlin Styrsky, Myj Saintyl, and Sam Post.