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

Welcome to the Jan. 9 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

New year, new court business! Dear readers, we have federal judicial activity from President Joe Biden’s (D) second year in office, with some SCOTUS on the side. Let’s gavel in, shall we?

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Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted five new cases to its merits docket.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 51 cases during its 2022-2023 term


The Supreme Court will hear arguments in five cases this week. 

Jan. 9

Jan. 10

Jan. 11

The court’s January argument sitting will conclude on Jan. 18. The February argument sitting is scheduled to begin on Feb. 21. 

Twelve cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.


SCOTUS has not issued any opinions in cases argued on the merits 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 Jan. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Dec. 2, 2022, through Jan. 1, 2023. 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 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 six new nominations. 
  • Confirmations: There were 10 new confirmations.

Vacancy count for Jan. 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

Four judges left active status, and one judicial position was established, 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.

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 Jan. 1, 2023.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the vacancy percentage in each of the United States District Courts as of Jan. 1, 2023.

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) announced six new nominations since our previous report. 

Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 148 individuals to Article III positions. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 10 new nominees since our previous edition:

As of Jan. 1, 2023, the Senate had confirmed 97 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—68 district court judges, 28 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 90 judges through Jan. 1 of their third year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Jan. 1 of his third year with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Ronald Reagan (R) made the most appointments through one year in office with 41. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 13.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through two years with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • 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. 17, 2023, with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter with contributions from Myj Saintyl and Sam Post.

Editor’s note

Dearest readers, I pause to thank you for your time and attention. It has been an honor to compile this newsletter for you. While this may be my final edition writing Robe & Gavel, I put my quill down grateful in the knowledge that it shall continue to hum along, bringing you all the latest on the federal courts. I appreciate you.

Warmest wishes to you and yours,