Robe & Gavel: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for August 2023

Welcome to the Aug. 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 hope you’re staying cool this summer, dear readers. Although SCOTUS is currently in recess, we’ve got plenty to catch up on. So grab a glass of refreshing lemonade, and let’s gavel in!

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Noteworthy court announcements

Here’s a quick roundup of the court’s most recent noteworthy announcements since the July 10 edition of Robe & Gavel:

SCOTUS issues October argument calendar

  • On July 14, SCOTUS released its calendar for the October sitting of the 2023-2024 term, scheduling six cases for argument. 

Click the links below to learn more about the cases:

October 2, 2023

October 3, 2023

October 4, 2023

October 10, 2023

October 11, 2023


Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted no new cases to its merits docket. To date, the court has agreed to hear 22 cases during its 2023-2024 term. Of the 22 cases, one was dismissed.


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. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from July 2 to Aug 1. 


  • Vacancies: There was one new vacancy since the July report. There are 69 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions in courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 70 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were four new nominations since the July 2023 report. 
  • Confirmations: There were four new confirmations since the July 2023 report.

Vacancy count for Aug. 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.

New vacancies

One judge left active status since the previous vacancy count, creating an Article III life-term vacancy. The president nominates judges, who are then subject to Senate confirmation.

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies in the U.S. 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 U.S. District Courts as of Aug. 1.

New nominations

President Biden announced four new nominations since the July 2023 report:

The president has announced 176 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on January 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

As of Aug. 1, the Senate has confirmed 140 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—103 district court judges, 36 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice—since January 2021.

Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)

  • Presidents have made an average of 125 judicial appointments through Aug. 1 of their third year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Aug. 1 of his third year with 156. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 91.
  • 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 Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments in four years with 234. President Ronald Reagan (R) 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 Sept. 11 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


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