Author

Sara Reynolds

Sara Reynolds is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for June

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from June 2, 2020, to July 1, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS
Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the May 2020 report. There are 73 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, 79 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
Nominations: There have been two new nominations since the May 2020 report.
Confirmations: There have been three new confirmations since the May 2020 report.

New vacancies
There were 73 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.4.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• None of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.
• 71 (10.5%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.

Two judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. As Article III judicial positions, these 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.
1. Judge Justin Walker was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
2. Judge Brian Cogan assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

New nominations
President Donald Trump (R) has announced two new nominations since the May 2020 report.
1. James P. Arguelles, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
2. Taylor McNeel, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 262 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations
Since June 2, 2020, the United States Senate has confirmed three of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats.
1. Drew Tipton, confirmed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
2. Justin Walker, confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
3. Cory Wilson, confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

As of July 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 200 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—143 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Federal_judicial_appointments_by_president
https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_federal_courts
https://ballotpedia.org/Current_federal_judicial_vacancies
https://ballotpedia.org/Judicial_vacancies_during_Trump%27s_first_term
https://ballotpedia.org/The_Trump_administration_on_federal_courts



Trump has appointed second-most federal judges through July 1 of a president’s fourth year

Donald Trump has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 200 Article III federal judges through July 1, 2020, his fourth year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since Jimmy Carter (D). The Senate had confirmed 247 of Carter’s appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through July 1 of their fourth year in office is 185.

The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. Along with President Trump, Presidents Barack Obama (D), Bill Clinton (D), and George H.W. Bush (R) had each appointed two Supreme Court justices at this point in their first terms. Ronald Reagan (R) had appointed one, while Carter and George W. Bush (R) had not appointed any.

The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 35. Carter appointed the most with 54, while Reagan appointed the least with 27. Trump’s 53 appointments make up 30% of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.

The median number of United States District Court appointees is 143. Carter appointed the most with 190, and Reagan appointed the fewest with 117. Trump has appointed 143 district court judges so far. Those appointments make up 21% of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

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:
https://ballotpedia.org/Federal_judges_nominated_by_Donald_Trump#Appointments_by_court_type



U.S. Supreme Court releases opinions on abortion, CFPB, and education

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued decisions in five cases this week. The court has issued decisions in 52 cases so far this term. The court usually finishes releasing all opinions for the term by the end of June. This year, the court will issue opinions in July for the first time since 1996.

The case: USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International concerned the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 (the Leadership Act). The Leadership Act required U.S. and foreign organizations that fight HIV/AIDS overseas to explicitly adopt a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case ruled the requirement to adopt this policy was unconstitutional for U.S. organizations.

After the 2013 ruling, the U.S. government continued to apply the policy requirement to foreign affiliates of U.S. organizations fighting HIV/AIDS overseas. The Alliance for Open Society International (AOSI) challenged this interpretation.

The outcome: The court reversed the 2nd Circuit’s decision in a 5-3 ruling, holding foreign affiliates of U.S.-based organizations that receive federal funds to fight HIV/AIDS abroad are not protected under the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the policy requirement for foreign affiliates is constitutional. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority, “In short, plaintiffs’ foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad have no First Amendment rights.”

The case: June Medical Services v. Russo concerned Louisiana Act 620, which required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. June Medical Services, a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, challenged Louisiana Act 620 in court. While June Medical Services’ lawsuit was ongoing, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that a Texas law similar to Act 620 was unconstitutional.

The Middle District of Louisiana then held Act 620 was unconstitutional. On appeal, the 5th Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. June Medical Services appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the 5th Circuit’s ruling “conflicts with Whole Woman’s Health in its result and its reasoning.”

The outcome: The court reversed the 5th Circuit’s decision in a 5-4 ruling, holding Act 620 was unconstitutional.

The case: Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concerned the extent of the president’s appointment and removal powers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a civil investigative demand to the California-based firm, Seila Law. Seila Law refused to comply, so the agency petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, asking it to enforce the demand. Seila Law responded by arguing that the CFPB violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine.

The Dodd-Frank Act created the CFPB in 2010. 12 U.S.C. §5491(c)(3) of the Act established one agency director, a presidential appointee subject to Senate confirmation. The director serves a five-year term, and can be removed only for cause—”inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”

The outcome: The U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-4 opinion that the structure of the CFPB violated the separation of powers and that the removal power restrictions could be severed from the rest of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The case: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue concerned whether the government can exclude religious institutions from student-aid programs and relates to Article X, Section 6 of the Montana Constitution, also known as Montana’s Blaine Amendment.

A 2015 Montana law established a tax credit scholarship program that matched—up to $150 a year—taxpayer donations to organizations that issued scholarships for private school students. To ensure compliance with the Montana Constitution, the state Department of Revenue established Rule 1, which barred recipients from using the scholarships at religiously-affiliated private schools. The plaintiffs, three mothers whose children attended religious-affiliated private schools, challenged Rule 1. The Montana 11th Judicial District granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, prohibiting the rule’s enforcement. On appeal, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the 11th Judicial District’s ruling, holding the law violated the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment.

The outcome: The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling in a 5-4 opinion, holding Article X, Section 6 violated the free exercise clause by barring religious schools and parents who wished to send their children to those schools from receiving public benefits because of the religious character of the school.

The case: United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V. concerned federal trademark registration eligibility. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied Booking.com’s four applications to trademark the name Booking.com. The USPTO said the name was generic and not a protectable mark. After several lower court appeals, the USPTO petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The outcome: The court affirmed the 4th Circuit’s decision in an 8-1 ruling, holding a “generic.com” term is not a generic name for a class of goods or services if consumers recognize the term as distinguishing among members of that class. In those circumstances, “generic.com” (or, in this case, “Booking.com”) is eligible for federal trademark registration.



U.S. Supreme Court rules application of Blaine Amendment violates the free exercise clause

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue that the application of Article X, Section 6 of the Montana Constitution violated the free exercise clause of the U.S. Constitution. Article X, Section 6, known as the state’s Blaine Amendment or as a no aid provision, prohibited the state from making direct or indirect public fund payments to religious schools.

The case concerned whether the government can exclude religious institutions from student-aid programs and addressed the tension between the free exercise and Establishment Clauses of the U.S. Constitution—where one guarantees the right of individuals free exercise of religion and the other guarantees that the state won’t establish a religion—and the intersections of state constitutions with state law and with the U.S. Constitution.

A 2015 Montana law established a tax credit scholarship program that matched—up to $150 a year—taxpayer donations to organizations that issued scholarships for private school students. To ensure compliance with the Montana Constitution, the state Department of Revenue established Rule 1, which barred recipients from using the scholarships at religiously-affiliated private schools. The plaintiffs, three mothers whose children attended religious-affiliated private schools, challenged Rule 1. The Montana 11th Judicial District granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, prohibiting the rule’s enforcement. On appeal, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the 11th Judicial District’s ruling, holding the law violated the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling in a 5-4 opinion, holding Article X, Section 6 violated the free exercise clause by barring religious schools and parents who wished to send their children to those schools from receiving public benefits because of the religious character of the school.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justices Samuel Alito and Gorsuch each filed separate concurring opinions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Elena Kagan. Justice Stephen Breyer also dissented, joined by Justice Kagan as to Part I. Justice Sonia Sotomayor also filed a dissenting opinion.

Blaine Amendments refer to language in state constitutions that prohibit public funding for schools or educational institutions run by religious organizations. Blaine Amendments were added to the state constitutions of 38 states. Louisiana’s amendment was repealed in 1974, leaving 37 states with Blaine Amendments in their constitutions as of 2020.

Additional reading:



U.S. Senate confirms Trump’s 200th judicial nominee with Cory Wilson to 5th Circuit

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 200 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 143 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.

On June 24, the Senate confirmed Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The 5th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal courts. After Wilson receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have no vacancies, 12 Republican-appointed judges, and five Democrat-appointed judges.

Wilson’s confirmation fills the only current U.S. Circuit Court vacancy. The last time this occurred was in July 1984, when Judge John Butzner’s seat on the 4th Circuit was vacant.

There are two upcoming Circuit Court vacancies. Andrew Brasher was already confirmed to succeed Judge Ed Carnes on the 11th Circuit. Carnes is expected to assume senior status on June 30. Justin Walker was confirmed to succeed Judge Thomas Griffith on the D.C. Circuit. Griffith is expected to retire on September 1.

Additional reading:



Bold Justice: SCOTUS releases opinions on Title VII, right-of-way, and DACA

Ballotpedia's Bold Justice

Welcome to the June 22 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. As court watchers, we know that as summer heats up, so does the opinions calendar. Stay up-to-date on the latest news by following us on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.


We #SCOTUS so you don't have to

Arguments

The Supreme Court has finished hearing arguments for the 2019-2020 term. The court agreed to hear arguments in 74 cases, but heard arguments in only 61 cases due to the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming 2020-21 term.

Opinions

SCOTUS has issued three opinions—ruling on seven cases—since our June 8 issue. The court has issued rulings in 45 cases so far this term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since June 8:

  • June 15

    • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC) was argued on October 8, 2019.

      The cases: The three cases questioned whether sexual orientation and gender identity were included in Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of … sex.”

      In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Gerald Bostock was a Clayton County employee whose employment was terminated. After his termination, Bostock sued the county for discrimination because of sexual orientation. Bostock argued his termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The U.S. district court dismissed the case and, on appeal, the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

      In Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Donald Zarda sued Altitude Express after his employment was terminated. Zarda brought the suit under Title VII, alleging his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation.

      In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, Aimee Stephens’ employment was terminated after she informed the funeral home’s owner that she would transition from male to female. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which charged the funeral home with violating Title VII.

      The outcome: In a 6-3 ruling the court said that sexual orientation and gender identity were forms of sex discrimination under Title VII. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority: “Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

      Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Brett Kavanaugh also filed a dissenting opinion.

    • United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association (consolidated with Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association) was argued on February 24, 2020.

      The case: The U.S. Forest Service issued a permit in 2018 allowing Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to construct a natural gas pipeline that would cross under the Appalachian Trail. Cowpasture River Preservation Association challenged the permit in the 4th Circuit. The 4th Circuit vacated the permit, ruling the Forest Service didn’t have the legal authority to grant right-of-way—strips of land in which natural gas pipelines are installed—on Appalachian Trail land.

      The Forest Service and Atlantic Coast Pipeline petitioned to the Supreme Court, arguing the 4th Circuit was wrong to vacate the permit.

      The outcome: The court reversed and remanded the 4th Circuit’s ruling in a 7-2 vote, holding that because the Department of the Interior’s decision to assign responsibility over the Appalachian Trail to the National Park Service did not transform the land over which the Trail passes into land within the National Park System, the Forest Service had the authority to issue the special use permit.

      Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Elena Kagan.

  • June 18

    • Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California (consolidated with Trump v. NAACP and Wolf v. Vidal) was argued on November 12, 2019.

      The case: In 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Regents of the University of California sued DHS in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging the decision violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and denied respondents’ right to equal protection and due process.

      The district court issued a preliminary injunction barring the government from rescinding DACA. The government filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit, which heard oral argument on May 15, 2018, but had not issued an opinion as of November 5, 2018, when the government asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

      In its appeal, the government defended its decision to end DACA as a lawful wind-down of a discretionary policy because of the program’s dubious legal status.

      The outcome: The court ruled against DHS in a 5-4 opinion, holding that the agency’s decision to end DACA was reviewable under the APA and that its decision was arbitrary and capricious. The court found the decision unlawful because DHS “failed to supply the requisite ‘reasoned analysis'” at the time the agency chose to end the DACA program and failed to consider how to accommodate those who relied on the program.

      Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court, except for part IV. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan joined the full opinion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the opinion except for part IV.

      Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the judgment in part, and dissenting in part.

      Justice Clarence Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

      Justices Alito and Brett Kavanaugh each filed opinions concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.


Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • June 25: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

  • June 29: SCOTUS will release orders and possibly opinions.


SCOTUS trivia

How many SCOTUS justices must be present to hear a case?


Federal Court action

Confirmations

The Senate has confirmed one new nominee since our June 8 issue.

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 199 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—143 district court judges, 52 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.


Nominations

President Trump announced two new Article III nominees since our June 8 edition.

The president has announced 262 Article III judicial nominations since taking office January 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017, 92 in 2018, and 77 in 2019. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.



Vacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 79 vacancies. As of publication, there were 47 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional six judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.


Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported five new nominees out of committee since our June 8 edition.

  • John Holcomb, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Central District Of California

  • Brett Ludwig, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Of Wisconsin

  • Shireen Matthews, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Of California

  • Todd Robinson, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Of California

  • Christy Wiegand, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Western District Of Pennsylvania

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

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, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.


Looking ahead

We’ll be back on June 29 with a new edition of Bold Justice, pending opinions.

Click here to learn more.



U.S. Supreme Court rules on Title VII and sexual orientation, and the U.S. Forest Service’s authority to grant rights-of-way

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two opinions in five cases. In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC), SCOTUS ruled “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates” Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The three cases questioned whether sexual orientation and gender identity were included in Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination “because of … sex.”

In Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, the 11th Circuit held that sexual orientation was not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII. In Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the 2nd Circuit and 6th Circuit, respectively, held that sexual orientation was a form of sex discrimination under Title VII.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court reversed the 11th Circuit and affirmed the 2nd and 6th Circuits. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch argued, “Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Brett Kavanaugh also filed a dissenting opinion.

United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association (consolidated with Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association) concerned whether the U.S. Forest Service had the authority to grant rights-of-way through lands traversed by the Appalachian Trail within national forests. In a 7-2 opinion, the court reversed the 4th Circuit’s judgment, holding the Forest Service does have authority to grant rights-of-way. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion.

In his opinion, Justice Thomas wrote, “We conclude that the lands that the Trail crosses remain under the Forest Service’s jurisdiction and, thus, continue to be ‘Federal lands’ under the [Mineral] Leasing Act.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, dissented.

Additional reading:


New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Nakamura to retire in August

New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura is retiring on August 1, 2020. Nakamura joined the court in 2015 after being nominated by Gov. Susana Martinez (R). Before that, Nakamura was a judge on the New Mexico Second Judicial District Court and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. She also worked in private practice and for the State Land Office. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico and her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

In the event of a midterm vacancy, New Mexico Supreme Court justices are chosen by assisted gubernatorial appointment. The governor selects a nominee based on recommendations from the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. Nakamura’s replacement will be Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) third nominee to the five-member supreme court. The new appointee must stand for partisan election in November 2020. Justices wishing to serve additional terms must participate in uncontested retention elections; the justice must receive 57% of the vote to retain his or her seat.

The New Mexico Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. It currently includes the following justices:

  • Barbara Vigil – Elected in 2012
  • Michael Vigil – Elected in 2018
  • Judith Nakamura – Appointed by Gov. Martinez (R) in 2015
  • Shannon Bacon – Appointed by Gov. Lujan Grisham (D) in 2019
  • David Thomson – Appointed by Gov. Lujan Grisham in 2019

In 2020, there have been 15 supreme court vacancies in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. Ten vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Four are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.

Additional reading:


Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for May

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 2, 2020, to June 2, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Vacancies: There have not been any new judicial vacancies since the April 2020 report. There are 74 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, 80 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
• Nominations: There have been five new nominations since the April 2020 report.
• Confirmations: There have been four new confirmations since the April 2020 report.

New vacancies
There were 74 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.5.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions is vacant.
• 71 (10.5%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.

No judges created Article III life-term judicial vacancies by leaving active status. Vacant Article III judicial positions 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 from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of April 2, 2020.


New nominations
President Trump has announced five new nominations since the April 2020 report.
1. Roderick Young, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
2. Toby Crouse, to the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas
3. Edmund LaCour, to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
4. Fred Federici, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
5. Brenda Saiz, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 260 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations
Since May 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed four of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of June 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 197 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—142 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
1. Scott Rash, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
2. Anna Manasco, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
3. John Heil, confirmed to the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma
4. John L. Badalamenti, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida

Additional reading:



Trump has appointed second-most federal judges through June 1 of a president’s fourth year

Donald Trump has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 197 Article III federal judges through June 1, 2020, his fourth year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since Jimmy Carter (D). The Senate had confirmed 228 of Carter’s appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through June 1 of their fourth year in office is 176.

The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. Along with President Trump, Presidents Barack Obama (D), Bill Clinton (D), and George H.W. Bush (R) had each appointed two Supreme Court justices at this point in their first terms. Ronald Reagan (R) had appointed one, while Carter and George W. Bush (R) had not appointed any.

The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 32. Trump appointed the most with 51, while Reagan appointed the least with 25. Trump’s 51 appointments make up 28% of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.

The median number of United States District Court appointees is 142. Carter appointed the most with 176, and Reagan appointed the fewest with 109. Trump has appointed 142 district court judges so far. Those appointments make up 21% of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

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:



Bitnami