Welcome to the March 7 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
We’re starting our March SCOTUS sitting with a bang as we dive into the new federal judicial vacancy count. Let’s gavel in!
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SCOTUS accepted two new cases since the Feb. 27 edition. To date, the court has agreed to hear 60 cases for the 2022-2023 term. SCOTUS dismissed one case after it was accepted. One case has yet to be scheduled for arguments.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited concerns the appropriations clause in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Pulsifer v. United States concerns 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1) and the First Step Act of 2018. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
The Supreme Court will not hear arguments in any cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
SCOTUS issued two new opinions since our Feb. 27 edition. The court has issued rulings in seven cases so far this term. Fifty-five cases are still under deliberation.
Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since our Feb. 27 issue:
Feb. 28, 2023
Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was argued before the court on Oct. 3, 2022.
The case: 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 as part of its original jurisdiction.
The outcome: The court remanded the decision to the Special Master in a 9-0 ruling.
- To remand means to return a case or claim to a lower court for additional proceedings.
Bittner v. United States was argued before the court on Nov. 2, 2022.
The case: The case concerns the Bank Secrecy Act. The question presented is “Whether a ‘violation’ under the Act is the failure to file an annual FBAR [Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts form] (no matter the number of foreign accounts), or whether there is a separate violation for each individual account that was not properly reported.”
The outcome: The court reversed and remanded the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in a 5-4 ruling.
- To reverse a case means to overturn a lower court’s decision.
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- March 17, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
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. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Feb. 2 to March 1.
- Vacancies: There have been four new judicial vacancies since the February 2023 report. There are 80 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 82 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
- Nominations: There were three new nominations since the February 2023 report.
- Confirmations: There were 12 new confirmations since the February 2023 report.
Vacancy count for March 1, 2023
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.
Four judges left active status since the previous vacancy count, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial position vacancies. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
- Judge George Jarrod Hazel retired from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
- Judge Lynn Hughes assumed senior status on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
- Judge William J. Martinez assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
- Judge John Gerrard assumed senior status on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies in the United States Courts of Appeals from President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration to the date indicated on the chart.
U.S. District Court vacancies
The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of March 1, 2023.
There were no new nominations since our Feb. 27 issue.
The president has announced 154 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The Senate has confirmed six nominees since our Feb. 27 issue. As of March 1, the Senate has confirmed 109 of President Biden’s judicial nominees.
- Jamal Whitehead, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Araceli Martínez-Olguín, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- Jamar Walker, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Margaret R. Guzman, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusett
- Colleen Lawless, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- Jonathan Grey, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)
- Presidents have made an average of 93.7 judicial appointments through March 1 of their third year in office.
- President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through March 1 of his third year with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 69.
- President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Ronald Reagan (R) made the fewest through four years with 166.
- 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.
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 March 20 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!
Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Sam Post.