TagArticle III federal judges

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 81 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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President Biden nominates three additional individuals to Article III judgeships

President Joe Biden (D) nominated three individuals to Article III judgeships on April 29. With the addition of these three, Biden has nominated a total of 13 individuals to Article III judgeships since the start of his term. At the time of this writing, none of Biden’s Article III nominees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

David Estudillo is a nominee to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Estudillo is currently the presiding judge on the Grant County Superior Court in Washington state. He was appointed to the court in 2015 by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and subsequently won election to the seat in 2016 and 2020. Prior to becoming a judge, he was an attorney in private practice. Estudillo earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in 1996 and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 1999.

Tana Lin is also a nominee to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Lin is currently of counsel at the law firm of Keller Rohrback LLP, where she has practiced law in various capacities since 2004. She earned her bachelor’s degree, with distinction, from Cornell University in 1988 and her J.D. from the New York University School of Law in 1991.

Christine O’Hearn is a nominee to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. O’Hearn is currently a partner with the law firm of Brown & Connery LLP, which she joined in 1993. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1990 and her J.D. from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 1993.

Biden’s other 10 Article III nominees include:

• Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

• Tiffany Cunningham, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

• Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit

• Regina Rodriguez, to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

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

• Deborah Boardman, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland

• Lydia Kay Griggsby, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland

• Julien Xavier Neals, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

• Zahid Quraishi, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

• Margaret Strickland, to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico

As of April 1, there were 69 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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President Biden has announced 10 nominations for Article III judgeships

President Joe Biden (D) has announced his intent to nominate 10 individuals to Article III courts for lifetime judgeships as of April 1. As of this writing, the official nominations have not yet been submitted to the U.S. Senate. 

For comparison with the previous administration, President Donald Trump (R) made his first Article III judicial nomination by February 1, 2017, when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Trump’s first successful appointment–where the nominee was confirmed–occurred by May 1 of his first year, when Gorsuch was confirmed to SCOTUS.

Since 1901, the earliest successful Article III appointment, meaning the nominee was confirmed, was made by President Richard Nixon (R). Nixon appointed a federal district judge by March 1 of his first year in office. Three presidents–Theodore Roosevelt (R), Calvin Coolidge (R), and Gerald Ford (R)–made the fewest with zero judicial appointments during their first year in office.

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.

As of this writing, there were 73 current vacancies in the federal judiciary of 870 total Article III judgeships. Including non-Article III judges from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, there were 77 vacancies out of 890 active federal judicial positions.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for January 2021

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies to all United States Article III federal courts from January 1 to February 1, 2021. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vacancies: There have been 11 new judicial vacancies since the December 2020 report. There are 57 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, 60 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

Nominations: There were no new nominations since the December 2020 report.

Confirmations: There have been no new confirmations since the December 2020 report.

New vacancies

There were 57 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 6.6.

• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.

• Four (2.2%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.

• 52 (7.7%) of the 673 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.*

• One (11.1%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions is vacant.

*District court count does not include territorial courts.

Eleven 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 William Alsup assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

• Judge Janet Hall assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

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

• Judge Larry Burns assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

• Judge Theresa Springmann assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

• Judge Dan Polster assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

• Judge James Gwin assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

• Judge Carlos Lucero assumed senior status on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

• Judge Jeffrey White assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

• Judge Phyllis Hamilton assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

• Judge Roslynn Mauskopf retired from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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.

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 February 1, 2021.

New nominations

As of February 1, 2021, President Joe Biden (D) had not announced any new nominations.

New confirmations

As of February 1, 2021, there have been no federal judicial confirmations during the Biden administration.

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President Biden has not made any federal judicial appointments through February 1 of his first year in office

As of February 1, 2021, President Joe Biden (D) had not appointed any Article III federal judges. The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through February 1 of their first year in office is zero. 

Through the first year in office, President Ronald Reagan (R) made the most appointments with 41, and President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 13.

Through the fourth year in office, President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments with 234. President Ronald Reagan (R) made the fewest in that time with 166.

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.

Upon assuming office, President Biden inherited 46 Article III lifetime federal judicial vacancies. As of February 1, there were 57 vacancies. 

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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Biden to inherit fewest judicial vacancies since 1989

A look at judicial vacancies and appointments under Trump

From time to time, we’ve brought you updates on the federal judges who have been nominated and confirmed under the Trump administration. With inauguration day tomorrow, let’s wrap up the numbers of the 45th President with a look at where things stand today.

Vacancies

President Trump was inaugurated four years ago on Jan. 20, 2017. At that time, there were 108 lifetime federal judicial vacancies requiring a presidential nomination. This was the largest number of vacancies at the beginning of a presidency since 1992, when there were 111 vacancies at Bill Clinton’s (D) inauguration. 

As of Jan. 18, there were 46 federal judicial vacancies requiring a presidential nomination. This is the lowest number of at the beginning of a presidency since there were 37 vacancies when George H.W. Bush (R) was inaugurated in 1989.

Nominations

Since taking office, Trump nominated 274 individuals to federal judgeships. Trump made the most Article III judicial nominations in April 2018 (27). There were nine months in his presidency during which he made no Article III judicial nominations.

Confirmations

Of Trump’s 274 federal judicial nominations, the U.S. Senate confirmed 234 of them. The average number of judicial confirmations for the first four years of a presidency since Jimmy Carter (D) is 205. The Senate confirmed 261 of Carter’s judicial nominees, the most confirmations through four years. President Ronald Reagan (R) had the fewest at 166.

The Senate has confirmed 54 of President Trump’s appellate court nominees, the second-most on the list. President Jimmy Carter had the most with 56. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had the fewest number of appellate confirmations with 30. The median number of appellate court confirmations is 35. 

The median number of U.S. District Court confirmations is 168. The Senate confirmed 202 of  President Jimmy Carter’s district court nominees, leading the list. President Ronald Reagan had the fewest number of district judges confirmed, with 129.

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Special election canceled for Louisiana state House after lack of candidates

After Brett Geymann (R) was the only candidate to file for the special election for Louisiana state House District 35, the Feb. 6 primary and March 20 general elections were canceled. Geymann was then automatically elected without appearing on the ballot.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of Stephen Dwight (R) on Dec. 1, 2020.  He had represented the district since 2016.

Ballotpedia has identified 14 states with laws that explicitly allow for elections to be canceled at the state level. The individual laws governing when and how elections can be canceled vary. For example, in North Carolina, a canceled election can lead to a vacancy, appointment, or leaving the incumbent in place. In Connecticut, if a candidate does not gain endorsement from their party or at least 15% of the party’s delegation, then the election will be canceled. Click here for details.

As of January 2021, 20 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 14 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 88 special elections took place each odd-numbered year.

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SEIU asks CA Supreme Court to declare Prop 22 unconstitutional

Here’s an update on California Proposition 22, an initiative that defined app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors and not employees or agents. With $225 million between supporters and opponents, Prop 22 was the most expensive ballot measure in California history, surpassing the next closest measure by $70.5 million. 

On Jan. 12, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and four app-based drivers sued the state government in the California Supreme Court. The SEIU is seeking to have Proposition 22 declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California, said, “Prop. 22 doesn’t just fail our state rideshare drivers, it fails the basic test of following our state constitution. The law as written by Uber and Lyft denies drivers rights under the law in California and makes it nearly impossible for lawmakers to fix these problems.” 

Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for Yes on Proposition 22, provided a statement from an app-based driver, which said, “Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts.”

Prop 22 was approved at the Nov. 3, 2020, election with 58.6% of the vote. The measure overrode Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors.

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