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

Welcome to the Sept. 11 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Today, we remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. We also honor the courageous individuals who put themselves in harm’s way on that day to save their fellow human beings. 

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Noteworthy court announcements

Here’s a quick roundup of the court’s most recent noteworthy announcements since the Aug. 7 edition of Robe & Gavel:

SCOTUS issues October argument calendar

  • On Sept. 6, SCOTUS released the calendar for the November sitting of the 2023-2024 term, scheduling seven cases for argument. 

Click the links below to learn more about the cases:

October 30, 2023

October 31, 2023

November 1, 2023

November 6, 2023

November 7, 2023

November 8, 2023


SCOTUS has accepted one new case to its merits docket since our Aug. 7 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear 23 cases for the 2023-2024 term. SCOTUS dismissed one case after it was accepted.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:


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 Aug. 2 to Sept. 1. 


  • Vacancies: There was one new judicial vacancy since the August 2023 report. There are 70 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, 71 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were three new nominations since the August 2023 report. 
  • Confirmations: There were no new confirmations since the August 2023 report.

Vacancy count for Sept. 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 U.S. 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 Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill these vacancies. Nominations are subject to U.S. 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 Sept. 1.

New nominations

President Biden announced three new nominations since the previous report:

The president has announced 179 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

There have been no new confirmations since the previous report:

As of Sept. 1, the Senate has confirmed 140 of President Biden’s Article III judicial nominees—103 district court judges, 36 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice—since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.

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

  • Presidents have made an average of 127 judicial appointments through Sept. 1 of their third year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Sept. 1 of his third year with 165. President George H.W. Bush (D) made the fewest with 94.
  • 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 Oct. 2 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


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