Robe & Gavel: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for Dec. 1

Welcome to the Dec. 12 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Dear readers, we have come to Day 12 of Month 12 of 2022, and my stars, what a year it has been! We are closing in on the end of the year but by no means the end of SCOTUS term or federal courts activity. Let’s gavel in, shall we?

Follow Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for the latest news and analysis.

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!


Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted no new cases to its merits docket.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 42 cases during its 2022-2023 term


The Supreme Court will not hear arguments in cases this week. The court’s January argument sitting begins on Jan. 9, 2023, and is scheduled to conclude on Jan. 18. Click here to read more about the seven cases scheduled for argument in January.

Eight cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.


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 Dec. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Nov. 2 through Dec. 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 was one new judicial vacancy. There were 87 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 89 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were no new nominations. 
  • Confirmations: There were three new confirmations.

Vacancy count for Dec. 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.

New vacancies

One judge left active status, creating an Article III life-term judicial vacancy. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

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 Dec. 1.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the vacancy percentage in each of the United States District Courts as of Dec. 1, 2022.

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) did not announce any new nominations since the previous report. Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 142 individuals to Article III positions. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate has confirmed three new nominees since our previous edition:

As of Dec. 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 87 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—61 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 85 judges through Dec. 1 of their second year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Dec. 1 of his second year with 128. 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.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Jan. 9, 2023(!) 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.