Author

Brittony Maag

Brittony Maag is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org

Supreme Court rules there is no constitutional right to abortion; overturns Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, in which it held there is no right to abortion under the U.S. Constitution. The court’s decision explicitly overturned its previous rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey (1992). The decision in Dobbs came nearly eight weeks after a draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion was leaked on May 2.

In a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Alito, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit‘s decision and upheld the Mississippi abortion law at issue in the case. In a 5-4 vote, the court found there is no constitutional right to abortion and overruled Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973,and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, which upheld that decision with some restrictions in 1992. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito’s majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts concurred in the judgment upholding the Mississippi law but did not join the vote to overturn Roe and Casey. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan jointly filed a dissenting opinion.

The court has issued decisions in 57 cases this term, which leaves seven cases yet to be decided. The court is scheduled to release more opinions on July 27.

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Monthly tracker: Article III federal judicial nominations by president by days in office since 2001

Through May 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 77 vacancies. Seventy-five of those were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime terms.

  • In the past month, two judges have been confirmed
  • In the past month, 10 judges have been nominated*

*Note: This figure includes nomination announcements in addition to nominations officially received in the Senate.

By May 1, 467 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 93 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison**: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 123 individuals, 80 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 69 individuals, 62 of which were confirmed.
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 140 individuals, 85 of which were confirmed.

**Note: These figures include unsuccessful nominations.

The following data visualizations track the number of Article III judicial nominations by president by days in office during the Biden, Trump, Obama, and W. Bush administrations (2001-present). 

The first tracker is limited to successful nominations, where the nominee was ultimately confirmed to their respective court:

The second tracker counts all Article III nominations, including unsuccessful nominations (for example, the nomination was withdrawn or the U.S. Senate did not vote on the nomination), renominations of individuals to the same court, and recess appointments. A recess appointment is when the president appoints a federal official while the Senate is in recess.

The data contained in these charts is compiled by Ballotpedia staff from publicly available information provided by the Federal Judicial Center. The comparison by days shown between the presidents is not reflective of the overall status of the federal judiciary during their respective administrations and is intended solely to track nominations by president by day.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for April 2022

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts during the month of April through May 1, 2022. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Four judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of Pres. Joe Biden (D) and at the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at Biden’s inauguration and as of May 1, 2022.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of May 1, 2022.

New nominations

Biden announced 10 new nominations since the previous report. Since taking office in Jan. 2021, Biden has nominated 93 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed two nominees since the previous report.

As of May 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 60 of Biden’s judicial nominees—44 district court judges, 15 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

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Biden has appointed most federal judges through May 1 of a president’s second year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed 60 Article III federal judges through May 1 of Biden’s second year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 33 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through May 1 of their second year in office is 44.

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Five presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, Trump, and Biden) made one appointment. Two presidents (H.W. Bush and W. Bush) had not appointed any.
  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 12. Biden and Trump tied for the most appointees with 15, followed by Reagan with 13. Clinton appointed the fewest with five.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 41. Biden and Reagan tied for the most appointees with 44, followed by W. Bush with 43. Obama appointed the fewest with 11.

Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

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Biden nominates five to Article III courts on April 27

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate five individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on April 27:

To date, Biden has nominated 93 individuals to federal judgeships. The U.S. Senate has confirmed 59 of the nominees.

As of his inauguration in January 2021, Biden inherited 46 Article III vacancies: two vacancies in the U.S. courts of appeal, 43 vacancies in the U.S. district courts, and one vacancy on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Biden announced his first federal judicial nominees on March 30, 2021.

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SCOTUS accepts two new cases for its 2022-2023 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) accepted two cases for argument during its October 2022-2023 term on April 25. To date, the court has agreed to hear arguments in 11 cases next term.

Reed v. Goertz concerns a split between the U.S. circuit courts on when the statute of limitations begins to run for a criminal defendant to file a federal claim for DNA testing of crime-scene evidence. The question presented to the court in the case is: “[W]hether the statute of limitations for a §1983 claim seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence begins to run at the end of state court litigation denying DNA testing, including any appeals (as the Eleventh Circuit has held), or whether it begins to run at the moment the state trial court denies DNA testing, despite any subsequent appeal (as the Fifth Circuit, joining the Seventh Circuit, held below).” The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. concerns the 14th Amendment and a state’s ability to condition a corporation doing business in that state on the corporation consenting to personal jurisdiction. The court will consider the following question: “Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from requiring a corporation to consent to personal jurisdiction to do business in the state.” The case came to the court from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The court will begin hearing cases for its 2022-2023 term on Oct. 3, 2022.

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Biden nominates five to Article III courts

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate five individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on April 13:

To date, Biden has nominated 88 individuals to federal judgeships. The U.S. Senate has confirmed 59 of the nominees.

As of his inauguration in January 2021, Biden inherited 46 Article III vacancies: two vacancies in the U.S. courts of appeal, 43 vacancies in the U.S. district courts, and one vacancy on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Biden announced his first federal judicial nominees on March 30.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for March 2022

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts during the month of March through April 1, 2022. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Four judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and at the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at Biden’s inauguration and as of April 1, 2022.

New nominations

Biden has announced no new nominations since the February 2022 report. Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 83 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed 12 nominees since the previous report.

As of April 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 58 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—43 district court judges and 15 appeals court judges. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

Additional reading:



Biden has appointed most federal judges through April 1 of a president’s second year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 58 Article III federal judges through April 1 of his second year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 29 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through April 1 of their second year in office is 39.

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Four presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump) had made one appointment. Three presidents (H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Biden) had not appointed any.
  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is eight. Biden had made the most appointees with 15, followed by Trump with 14. Clinton had appointed the fewest with four.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 35. Biden had made the most appointees with 43, followed by Reagan with 40. Obama had appointed the fewest with 11.

Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

Additional reading:



Monthly tracker: Article III federal judicial nominations by president by days in office since 2001

Through April 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 74 vacancies. Seventy-two of those were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.

  • In the past month, 12 judges have been confirmed
  • In the past month, no judges have been nominated*

*Note: This figure includes nomination announcements in addition to nominations officially received in the Senate.

By April 1, 437 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 83 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison:** 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 104 individuals, 76 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 59 individuals, 54 of which were confirmed.
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 138 individuals, 83 of which were confirmed.

**Note: These figures include unsuccessful nominations.

The following data visualizations track the number of Article III judicial nominations by president by days in office during the Biden, Trump, Obama, and W. Bush administrations (2001-present). 

The first tracker is limited to successful nominations, where the nominee was ultimately confirmed to their respective court:

The second tracker counts all Article III nominations, including unsuccessful nominations (for example, the nomination was withdrawn or the U.S. Senate did not vote on the nomination), renominations of individuals to the same court, and recess appointments. A recess appointment is when the president appoints a federal official while the Senate is in recess.

The data contained in these charts is compiled by Ballotpedia staff from publicly available information provided by the Federal Judicial Center. The comparison by days shown between the presidents is not reflective of the overall status of the federal judiciary during their respective administrations and is intended solely to track nominations by president by day.

Additional reading: