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Kate Carsella

Kate Carsella is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

SCOTUS accepts cases for 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Jan. 14 accepted five cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

As of this writing, the court has agreed to hear 64 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Sixteen cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

To date, the court has issued decisions in six cases. Two cases were decided without argument. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Nominee confirmed to Ninth Circuit

The U.S. Senate confirmed one of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to a lifetime Article III judgeship on Jan. 12:

  1. Gabriel Sanchez, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, by a vote of 52-47

The Ninth Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the federal court system.

Sanchez was nominated to the Ninth Circuit on Sept. 20 to replace Judge Marsha Berzon, who is scheduled to assume senior status. Sanchez was rated Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.

To date, 41 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 41 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – June 5, 2018
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – Aug. 5, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – March 15, 2002
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – March 10, 1994
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – May 11, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Dec. 16, 1981

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SCOTUS begins January argument session

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its latest sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Jan. 10. The court is hearing arguments in person and providing audio livestreams of arguments.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is participating remotely from her office as a precaution related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Jan. 10

  1. Gallardo v. Marstiller concerns tort claims and state Medicaid program reimbursement.

Jan. 11

  1. Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez and Garland v. Gonzalez concern non-citizens’ right to a bond hearing in immigration detention.

Jan. 12

  1. Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue concerns the time limit to file petitions with the U.S. Tax Court to review Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determinations.

Next week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 59 cases this term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eleven cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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Upcoming state supreme court vacancy in New Jersey

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina is scheduled to retire from the court on Feb. 15 upon reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. Fernandez-Vina’s replacement will be Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) third nominee to the seven-member supreme court. 

In New Jersey, state supreme court justices are selected through direct gubernatorial appointment. Justices are appointed directly by the governor without the use of a nominating commission. As of Jan. 4, there are five states that use this selection method. To read more about the gubernatorial appointment of judges, click here.

Justice Fernandez-Vina joined the court on Nov. 19, 2013, following an appointment by Gov. Chris Christie (R). Before serving on the state supreme court, Fernandez-Vina served as a legal associate and as a partner with private law firms.

He received a B.A. in history from Widener University in 1974 and a J.D. from Rutgers University in 1978. After law school, Fernandez-Vina clerked for New Jersey Superior Court Judge E. Stevenson Fluharty.

In 2022, there are four supreme court vacancies pending in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements.

Three of the vacancies—in Maryland and Wyoming—are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy—in New Jersey—is in a state where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement.

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SCOTUS releases February argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its February argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term on Dec. 17. The court scheduled seven cases for arguments on the merits between Feb. 22 and March 2, including two cases consolidated for one hour of oral argument.

Arguments will be conducted in person, although the court remains closed to the public, according to its COVID-19 safety protocols. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

Click the links below to learn more about the cases:

Feb. 22

  1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas
  2. Denezpi v. United States

Feb. 23

  1. Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco, California

Feb. 28

  1. West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (Consolidated with North American Coal Corporation v. Environmental Protection Agency, Westmoreland Mining Holdings v. Environmental Protection Agency, and North Dakota v. Environmental Protection Agency)

March 1

  1. Ruan v. United States (Consolidated with Kahn v. United States)
  2. Marietta Memorial Hospital Employee Health Benefit Plan v. DaVita, Inc.

March 2

  1. Egbert v. Boule

To date, the court has granted review in 56 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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U.S. Senate confirms two nominees to Article III judgeships

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships on Dec. 15:

To date, 31 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 31 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

Also on Dec. 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate nine individuals to Article III judgeships and three individuals to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

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Lucy Koh confirmed to U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

The U.S. Senate confirmed one of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to a lifetime Article III judgeship on Dec. 13:

  1. Lucy Koh, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, by a vote of 50-45

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the federal court system.

Koh was nominated to the 9th Circuit on Sept. 20 to replace Judge Richard A. Paez, who is scheduled to assume senior status. Koh was rated Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.

To date, 29 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 29 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – March 6, 2018
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – June 7, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – Jan. 25, 2002
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – Feb. 10, 1994
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – April 27, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Nov. 24, 1981

As of this writing, 15 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, nine nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and nine nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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SCOTUS accepts three new cases for 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) accepted three cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term on Dec. 10:

  1. Golan v. Saada, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, concerns international child custody.
  2. Southwest Airlines v. Saxon, on an appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, concerns the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act.
  3. ZF Automotive US, Inc. v. Luxshare, Ltd. (consolidated with AlixPartners, LLC v. Fund for Protection of Investor Rights in Foreign States), originating from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, concerns international arbitration proceedings.

The court also released opinions in two cases on Friday: United States v. Texas and Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson.

As of this writing, the court has agreed to hear 53 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Twelve cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

To date, the court has issued decisions in three cases. Two cases were decided without argument. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Biden ties Clinton in second-most Article III judicial confirmations through Dec. 1 of a president’s first year since 1981

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 28 Article III federal judges through Dec. 1 of his first year in office. 

Since 1901, Biden has made the third-most Article III appointments of any president by this time in office, tied with President Bill Clinton (D). President John F. Kennedy (D) had appointed the most with 56.

The following analysis compares Biden’s confirmations with his immediate predecessors since 1981: 

  1. The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Dec. 1 of their first year in office is 21.
  2. President Ronald Reagan (R) had the most appointees confirmed with 30. 
  3. President Barack Obama (D) had the fewest confirmations in that time with 11.

The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is one. Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Donald Trump (R) had each appointed one Supreme Court justice at this point in their first terms. Presidents George H.W. Bush (R), George W. Bush (R), and Biden had not appointed any.

The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is five. Biden and Trump appointed the most with nine, while Obama and Clinton appointed the fewest with three.

The median number of United States District Court appointees is 13. Clinton appointed the most with 24, and Trump appointed the fewest with six.

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

Through Dec. 1, 2021, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 78 vacancies. Seventy-four of those vacancies were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.

  • In the past month, no new judges have been confirmed.
  • In the past month, 11 new judges have been nominated.

By Dec. 1, 316 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 62 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison*: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 60 individuals, 35 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 29 individuals, 27 of which were confirmed. 
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 104 individuals, 51 of which were confirmed.

*Note: These nomination 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 larger states of the federal judiciary during their respective administrations and is intended solely to track nominations by president by day.

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