Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS begins second week of January sitting

Welcome to the Jan 17 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s the second week of SCOTUS’s January sitting, dear reader, and we have a lot to cover. So take a seat and let’s gavel in!

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SCOTUS has not accepted any new cases to its merits docket since our Jan. 9 edition.


The Supreme Court will hear arguments in three cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Jan. 17, 2023

  • Santos-Zacaria v. Garland concerns immigration law and whether a court of appeals can review an immigrant’s petition that the Board of Immigration Appeals participated in impermissible fact finding because the immigrant did not claim this in a motion of reconsideration.
    • The questions presented:  “(1) Whether Section 1252(d)(1)’s exhaustion requirement is jurisdictional, or merely a mandatory claims processing rule that may be waived or forfeited. (2) Whether, to satisfy Section 1252(d)(1)’s exhaustion requirement, a noncitizen who challenges a new error introduced by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must first ask the agency to exercise its discretion to reopen or reconsider.”
  • Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States concerns whether United States district courts have the right to criminally prosecute foreign states and their instrumentalities.
    • The questions presented: “Whether U.S. district courts may exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over criminal prosecutions against foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities under 18 U.S.C. § 3231 and in light of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1441(d), 1602-1611.”

Jan. 18, 2023

  • Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools concerns the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and whether petitioners are required to exhaust the IDEA’s administrative proceedings even when the proceedings would be futile.
    • The questions presented: “(1) Whether, and in what circumstances, courts should excuse further exhaustion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA) administrative proceedings under Section 1415(l) when such proceedings would be futile. (2) Whether Section 1415(l) requires exhaustion of a non-IDEA claim seeking money damages that are not available under the IDEA.”


SCOTUS has not issued any opinions in cases argued on the merits since our previous edition. 

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • Jan. 17, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • Jan. 18, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • Jan. 20, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices to consider cases.

Federal court action


There have been no new nominations since our Jan. 9 edition.

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


The U.S. Senate has confirmed no 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 in two years with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments in four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.


The federal judiciary currently has 87 vacancies, 85 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there were 23 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there were 26 upcoming vacancies, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Biden’s term, click here.

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.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Feb. 6, 2023, with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


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