TagArticle III federal judges

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

Through Jan. 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 76 vacancies. Seventy-four of those were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.

  1. In the past month, 12 judges have been confirmed
  2. In the past month, 11 judges have been nominated*.

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

By Jan. 1, 347 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 73 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison**: 

  1. President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 65 individuals, 44 of whom were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  2. President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 36 individuals, 34 of whom were confirmed.
  3. President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 106 individuals, 52 of whom 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 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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U.S. Senate confirms two nominees to lifetime federal judgeships

The U.S. Senate on Nov. 1 confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships:

  1. Beth Robinson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, by a vote of 51-45
  2. Toby Heytens, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, by a vote of 53-43

To date, 28 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 28 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – March 5, 2018
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – June 7, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – Dec. 20, 2001
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – Nov. 20, 1993
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – April 27, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Nov. 18, 1981

As of this writing, four Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, six nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 22 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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President Biden announces new federal judicial nominees

President Joe Biden (D) announced a new slate of nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships on U.S. circuit and district courts on Nov. 3.

Biden also nominated Kendra Briggs to a non-Article III court, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Superior Court of D.C. is a trial court of general jurisdiction where judges are appointed to 15-year terms by the president.

Since taking office, Biden has nominated 60 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. To date, 28 of the nominees have been confirmed.

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Sarah Merriam confirmed to U.S. district court

The U.S. Senate on Oct. 6 confirmed one of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to a lifetime Article III judgeship:

  1. Sarah A.L. Merriam, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, by a vote of 54-46

Merriam was nominated to the District of Connecticut on June 15 to replace JudgeJanet Hall, who assumedsenior status on Jan. 21. Merriam was rated Well Qualified by theAmerican Bar Association. To read more about ABA ratings,click here.

To date, 16 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 16 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – Nov. 28, 2017
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – Feb. 9, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – Nov. 6, 2001
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – Nov. 20, 1993
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – Jan. 23, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Oct. 21, 1981

As of this writing, 11 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, five nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 19 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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President Biden announces eight additional nominees for Article III judgeships

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate eight individuals to Article III judgeships on Sept. 8. With the addition of these eight, Biden has nominated a total of 41 individuals to Article III judgeships since the start of his term. To date, nine of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The nominees announced on Sept. 8 are:

  1. Lucy H. Koh, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  2. Gabriel Sanchez, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  3. Holly Thomas, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  4. Katherine Menendez, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  5. Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  6. David Herrera Urias, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  7. Jennifer L. Thurston, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  8. Hernan D. Vera, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

As of Sept. 1, there were 82 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary of 870 total Article III judgeships. These judges serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, which created and enumerated the powers of the judiciary. They are appointed for life terms. A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away.

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Status of President Biden’s federal judicial nominees so far

President Joe Biden’s (D) most recent federal judicial nominations were submitted to the U.S. Senate on Aug. 5. The three new nominees are:

  1. Charlotte Sweeney, to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  2. Mary Dimke, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  3. Beth Robinson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

To date, Biden has nominated 33 individuals to Article III federal judgeships. Listed below is the status of all of Biden’s Article III judicial nominees:

Waiting for committee hearing

The six nominees in this list are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  1. Jane Beckering, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  2. Mary Dimke, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  3. Shalina Kumar, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  4. Beth Robinson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  5. Jennifer Sung, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  6. Charlotte Sweeney, to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Waiting for committee vote

The five nominees in this list have had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and are awaiting a committee vote to advance their nominations to the full U.S. Senate.

  1. Toby Heytens, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  2. Sarala Nagala, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
  3. Michael Nachmanoff, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  4. Patricia Tolliver Giles, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  5. Omar Williams, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

Waiting for confirmation vote in U.S. Senate

The 13 nominees in this list are awaiting a vote in the full U.S. Senate following committee consideration. 

  1. Jia Cobb, to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  2. David G. Estudillo, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  3. Gustavo Gelpí, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
  4. Angel Kelley, to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  5. Lauren King, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  6. Tana Lin, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
  7. Sarah A.L. Merriam, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
  8. Christine O’Hearn, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  9. Florence Pan, to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  10. Myrna Pérez, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
  11. Veronica Rossman, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
  12. Margaret Strickland, to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
  13. Karen Williams, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

Confirmed to their positions

The nine nominees in this list have been confirmed by the full U.S. Senate. 

  1. Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  2. Zahid Quraishi, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  3. Julien Xavier Neals, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  4. Deborah Boardman, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  5. Regina Rodriguez, to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  6. Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
  7. Lydia Kay Griggsby, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  8. Eunice Lee, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
  9. Tiffany Cunningham, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Biden made the first federal judicial nominations of his presidency in March 2021. The U.S. Senate confirmed seven of his nominees in June, one in July, and one so far in August.

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Current federal judicial vacancies

Article III, United States Constitution



President Biden nominates six to Article III courts; two to D.C. local courts

President Joe Biden (D) nominated six individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on June 15:

• Myrna Pérez, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

• Jia Cobb, to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia

• Sarah A.L. Merriam, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

• Sarala Nagala, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

• Florence Pan, to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia

• Omar A. Williams, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

To date, Biden has nominated 24 individuals to federal judgeships. Five of the nominees have been confirmed. There were 81 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary as of June 1.

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.

President Biden also nominated two individuals to Washington, D.C., local courts on June 15:

• Tovah Calderon, to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals

• Kenia Seoane Lopez, to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., has two local courts: the superior court—a trial court of general jurisdiction—and a court of appeals. Justices on these courts are nominated by the U.S. president after recommendation from the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission. They then face confirmation by the U.S. Senate. D.C. judges are appointed to 15-year renewable terms.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for May 2021

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

HIGHLIGHTS

• Vacancies: There have been six new judicial vacancies since the April 2021 report. There are 82 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 85 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

• Nominations: There were six new nominations since the April 2021 report.

• Confirmations: There have been no new confirmations since the April 2021 report.

Six 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.

• Judge Ursula Ungaro assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

• Judge Thomas Thrash assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

• Judge Evan Wallach assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

• Judge Anthony Trenga assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

• Judge Petrese Tucker assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

• Judge Denny Chin assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

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 Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.

File:BKYS4-u-s-court-of-appeals-vacancies(6-1-21).png

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and as of June 1.

File:UUbHy-court-of-appeals-vacancies-biden-inauguration-.png
File:T7YhD-court-of-appeals-vacancies-june-1-2021-.png

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) has announced six new nominations since the April 2021 report.

• Gustavo Gelpí, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit

• Eunice Lee, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit

• Veronica Rossman, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit

• Angel Kelley, to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

• Karen Williams, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

• Lauren King, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

New confirmations

As of June 1, there have been no federal judicial confirmations during the Biden administration.

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President Biden announces intent to nominate six to federal judgeships

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate six individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on May 12:

  • Gustavo Gelpí, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
  • Eunice Lee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
  • Veronica Rossman, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
  • Angel Kelley, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Lauren King, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Karen Williams, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

To date, Biden has announced 19 nominees to Article III judgeships. Twelve nominees are awaiting a hearing with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The next nomination hearings are scheduled for May 13. Seven nominees are awaiting a committee vote. None of the nominees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

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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