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Bold Justice: No U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies

Welcome to the September 14 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. There’s less than a month to go before the Supreme Court begins its new term! We know you are as excited as we are. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for all the latest information.

The court will begin its 2020-2021 term on October 5. So far, the justices have agreed to hear 31 cases. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019 term but were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ 2020-2021 term.

The Supreme Court finished its 2019-2020 term on July 9. 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’ 2019-2020 term.

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in September and October:

  • September 29: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
  • October 5: SCOTUS will begin its 2020-2021 term, hearing arguments in two cases.

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 3 to September 1.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There have been no new judicial vacancies since the previous report. There are 72 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, 78 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
  • Nominations: There have been five new nominations since the previous report.
  • Confirmations: There has been one new confirmation since the previous report.

Vacancy count for September 1, 2020

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

No judges have left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. The president must make a nomination to fill vacant Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies

Seventeen U.S. Court of Appeals judgeships were vacant when President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Today, there are no U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacancies. According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, no U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges have announced their intent to leave active judicial status during the remainder of Trump’s current term.

This is the first time there have been no federal appeals court vacancies since at least 1977. Between January 1, 1977, and January 1, 2019, an average of 9.6% of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judgeships were vacant.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map displays U.S. District Court vacancies as of September 1.

New nominations

President Trump has announced five new nominations since the previous report.

  • Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
  • Benjamin Beaton, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.
  • Hector Gonzalez, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Ryan McAllister, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.
  • David Woll, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The president has announced 267 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.

New confirmations

Between August 3 and September 1, the Senate confirmed one of the president’s nominees to an Article III court.

Between January 2017 and September 1, 2020, the Senate confirmed 203 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—146 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

Trump is tied with President Bill Clinton (D) for the second-most Article III judicial appointments through September 1 of his fourth year of all presidencies since Jimmy Carter (D). The Senate confirmed 248 of Carter’s federal judicial appointees at this point in his presidency.

The average number of confirmed presidential judicial appointees through September 1 of a president’s fourth year in office is 191.

The median number of U.S. Court of Appeals appointees is 35. Carter appointed the most with 54, while Reagan appointed the least with 28. Trump’s 53 appointments make up 30% of the 179 federal appellate court judgeships.

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 the president has nominated.


In the next several Bold Justice editions, we’re taking a closer look at the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices. Today, we’re learning about Chief Justice John Roberts.Roberts has been chief justice since September 29, 2005. President George W. Bush (R) originally nominated Roberts on July 19, 2005, to be an associate justice succeeding Sandra Day O’Connor. President Bush withdrew his nomination after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died on September 3, 2005. On September 6, the president renominated Roberts to be the 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate confirmed Roberts by a 78-22 vote on September 29, 2005.

Before joining the U.S. Supreme Court, Roberts was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Before that, he worked in private practice and for the U.S. Department of Justice. After law school, Roberts was a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

Roberts was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on January 27, 1955. He is a practicing Roman Catholic. He attended private schools as a child and graduated from La Lumiere School, an all-boys Roman Catholic boarding school in LaPorte, Indiana, as class valedictorian in 1973.

Roberts earned an undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Harvard University in 1976. He wrote his thesis on British liberalism in the early 20th century. Roberts also earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1979. During his legal studies, Roberts served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.

In the 2019-2020 term, Roberts wrote the following opinions:

We’ll be back October 5 with a new edition of Bold Justice.


Bold Justice: Taking a look at Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue

Welcome to the August 10 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. Need to keep up on your federal court news during the dog days of summer? Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for all the latest information.

In this edition, we’re taking a closer look at Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which the U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 30, 2020. The case concerned whether the government can exclude religious institutions from student-aid programs.

Background

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 ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, prohibiting the rule’s enforcement. On appeal, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the lower court, holding the law violated Article X, Section 6 of the state constitution.

In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held Article X, Section 6 violated the Free Exercise clause. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said: “A state need not subsidize private education…but once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

Blaine Amendments in state constitutions

Article X, Section 6 of the Montana Constitution is known as Montana’s Blaine Amendment. Blaine Amendments refer to provisions in state constitutions that bar public funds from going to religiously-affiliated schools. Montana adopted a Blaine Amendment when it became a state in 1889. Article X, Section 6 was incorporated in the state’s 1972 constitution.

U.S. Rep. James G. Blaine of Maine proposed the first Blaine Amendment on December 14, 1875, in reaction to efforts by religious groups, mainly the Catholic Church, to establish parochial schools with public funding. The amendment passed in the U.S. House of Representatives but did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate.

Blaine Amendments were added to the constitutions of 38 states. Louisiana voters repealed their state’s Blaine Amendment in 1974, leaving 37 states with Blaine Amendments in their constitutions as of 2020. Click here for more information on Blaine Amendments in state constitutions.

Media coverage and commentary

The ruling’s affect on public school funding
“Never in more than two centuries of American history has the free exercise clause of the First Amendment been wielded as a weapon to defund and dismantle public education. It will hurt both the 90 percent of students who attend neighborhood public schools, by siphoning off needed funds, and, in the long term, those who attend religious schools by curtailing their freedom with the accountability that comes with tax dollars.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, June 30, 2020

“When you have a state where … a significant minority of parents are using private schools, they’re going to be voting against increasing taxes for public education. But if they are able to share in the education pot, they may move to supporters of greater aid to education.”

Professor Michael McConnell, Stanford Law School, July 30, 2020

The ruling’s affect on free exercise of religion
“We celebrate today’s Supreme Court decision on religious schools, which removes one of the biggest obstacles to better educational opportunities for all children. States may no longer hide behind rules motivated by insidious bias against Catholics, known as Blaine Amendments, to exclude religious schools from public benefits. Laws that condition public benefits, like need-based academic scholarships, on religious status demonstrate state-sanctioned hostility to religion, pressure people and institutions to censor their religious views, and stigmatize disfavored religions. The Trump Administration believes that school choice is a civil rights issue, and that no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school. President Donald J. Trump will fight for school choice, and he will always defend our first freedom: the free exercise of religion.”

Statement from the Trump administration, June 30, 2020

“Other Christians also briefed in favor of Montana. Nonetheless, Jews, other Christians and minority religions are now expected to pay for programs that teach religious ideals with which they disagree. They are especially worried that their tax dollars will now pay for schools that do not protect LGBTQ rights.”

Professor Leslie Griffin, University of Nevada, August 4, 2020

Click here for more information on media coverage and commentary of Espinoza.

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from July 2 to August 3.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the previous 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 no new nominations since the previous report.
  • Confirmations: There have been two new confirmations since the previous report.

Vacancy count for August 3, 2020

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

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

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map displays U.S. District Court vacancies as of August 1.

New nominations

President Trump has not announced any new nominations since the previous report.

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.

New confirmations

Between July 2 and August 3, the Senate confirmed two of the president’s nominees to Article III courts.

Between January 2017 and August 3, 2020, the Senate confirmed 202 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—145 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

Trump is tied with President Bill Clinton (D) for the second-most Article III judicial appointments through August 1 of his fourth year of all presidencies since Jimmy Carter (D). The Senate confirmed 247 of Carter’s federal judicial appointees at this point in his presidency.

The average number of confirmed presidential judicial appointees through August 1 of the fourth year in office is 188.

The median number of U.S. 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 29.6% of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.

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 the president has nominated.


We’ll be back September 14 with a new edition of Bold Justice.


Bold Justice: Reversal rates edition

Welcome to the August 3 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. Don’t want to check out while SCOTUS is on recess? Keep up with the latest news by following us on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.
The Supreme Court finished its 2019-2020 term on July 9. 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’ 2019-2020 term.

Opinion authorship

The court released 53 signed opinions, meaning the authorship was indicated. Some opinions are per curiam, or unsigned.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the most opinions this term. Justices Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh all wrote more opinions in the 2018-19 term than in the 2019-2020 term. However, the court heard fewer arguments in 2019-2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The chart below indicates the number and types of opinions each justice wrote during the 2019-2020 term. Justice Roberts and Gorsuch wrote the most opinions with seven each. Justices Thomas, Breyer, and Sotomayor wrote the least, with five opinions each.

5-4 decisions

The court issued 13 5-4 or 5-3 decisions, which was 21% of the total opinions released. Those decisions were made by four different configurations of justices. In 69% of these decisions, the five justices appointed by Republican presidents (Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh) made up the majority. In the rest, a Republican appointee joined the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan) to reach a majority.

Since the 2005-2006 term, 21% of the opinions released in a term were 5-4 opinions. The court had the highest percentage of 5-4 opinions in the 2006-2007 term (33%) and the lowest percentage of 5-4 opinions in the 2015-2016 term (5%).

Reversal rates

Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 993 cases. Of those, it reversed a lower court decision 696 times (70.1%) while affirming a lower court decision 289 times (29%). Eight of the 993 cases were original jurisdiction, meaning the U.S. Supreme Court was the only court to hear that case. These cases cannot affirm or reverse a lower court ruling.

Click here for more information on SCOTUS reversal rates from 2007 to the present.

SCOTUS issued opinions in 69 cases* during the 2019-2020 term. It reversed 46 lower court decisions (66.7%) and affirmed 23. This term’s reversal rate was 3.4 percentage points lower than the average rate of reversal since 2007 (70.1%).

*Ballotpedia uses data provided by SCOTUSblog. SCOTUSblog counts some consolidated cases as separate opinions because of the way the opinions impact lower court rulings.

Since 2007, SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the 9th Circuit (191) than from any other circuit. The court decided the second-most cases from the 2nd Circuit (73). During that span, SCOTUS overturned a greater number of cases originating from the 9th Circuit (149, or 78%), but it overturned a higher percentage of cases originating in the 6th Circuit (55 of 69 cases, or 79.7%).

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

The justices are on summer recess. Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • August 3: SCOTUS will release summer order lists. Summer order lists consist of court actions on motions in pending cases, petitions for rehearing, and other matters.
  • August 24: SCOTUS will release summer order lists.
  • September 11: SCOTUS will release summer order lists.

Confirmations

The Senate has confirmed two new nominees since our July 13 issue.

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 202 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—145 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

Nominations

President Trump has not announced any new Article III nominees since our July 13 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 49 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional three 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 11 new nominees out of committee since our July 13 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.
  • David Dugan, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
  • Hala Jarbou, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
  • Iain Johnston, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  • Stephen McGlynn, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
  • Franklin Valderrama, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  • Roderick Young, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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.


We’ll be back on August 10 with a new edition of Bold Justice.


Bold Justice: SCOTUS wraps up 2019 term


Welcome to the July 13 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. If you—like us—are despondent because SCOTUS is on recess until October, don’t worry! Stay up-to-date on political news by following us on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.

Join the Ballotpedia Team July 23 as we review the most important aspects of the Supreme Court’s 2019-2020 term. Register for the briefing to learn more about the pandemic’s impact, the decision trends we’re seeing, and the latest data on reversal rates.

Sign up here!

Opinions

SCOTUS has issued 14 opinions since our June 29 edition. The court released a total of 62 opinions this term and is now on recess until the start of the 2020-2021 term on October 5. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming 2020-21 term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since June 29:

June 29

  • USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International was argued on May 5, 2020.

    The case: The United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 required U.S. and foreign organizations that fight HIV/AIDS overseas to explicitly adopt a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. This was known as the policy requirement. In the 2013 case Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for the government to require U.S. organizations to adopt this policy. The current case concerned whether the policy requirement was constitutional for foreign-based affiliates of U.S. organizations.

    The outcome: In a 5-3 ruling, the court held the policy requirement is constitutional for the foreign affiliates of U.S.-based organizations that receive federal funds to fight HIV/AIDS abroad. The court reversed the 2nd Circuit’s decision.

    Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate in the case.

  • June Medical Services LLC v. Russo was argued on March 4, 2020. It was consolidated with Russo v. June Medical Services.

    The case: June Medical Services, a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, challenged Louisiana Act 620 in court. Act 620 required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals. While that 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.

    After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Whole Woman’s Health, a divided three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit declared Act 620 was constitutional. June Medical Services appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The outcome: In a 5-4 decision, the court reversed the 5th Circuit’s ruling and held that Act 620 was unconstitutional.

    Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh each filed dissenting opinions. Justice Samuel Alito also dissented, joined by Justice Gorsuch. Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh joined in part.

  • Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was argued on March 3, 2020.

    The case: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent agency that exercised executive powers and had a director protected from at-will termination by the president, 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 argued the CFPB violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine. The district court rejected Seila Law’s argument and ordered it to comply. Seila Law appealed to the 9th Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s order.

    The outcome: In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the CFPB’s structure was unconstitutional. The majority held that restrictions on the president’s ability to remove such agency leaders violated separation of powers principles. The decision affected part of the agency’s structure, but did not eliminate the agency altogether.

    Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court that consisted of three parts, joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. Roberts also wrote an opinion, labeled part IV, joined by Alito and Kavanaugh. Thomas wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Gorsuch. Justice Kagan wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor.

June 30

  • Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue was argued on January 22, 2020

    The case: 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 Article X, Section 6 of the state constitution.

    Article X, Section 6 probits using public funds to aid religious schools.

    The outcome: The court reversed the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling in a 5-4 opinion. The court held Article X, Section 6 violated the free exercise clause. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said: “A state need not subsidize private education…but once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

    Chief Justice Roberts delivered the majority opinion. Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Kagan. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justice Kagan as to Part I. Justice Sotomayor also filed a dissenting opinion.

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V. was argued on May 4, 2020.

    The case: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied Booking.com’s applications to trademark the name Booking.com. The PTO said the name was generic and not a protectable mark. Booking.com appealed the PTO’s decision. After several appeals, the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that Booking.com was not generic and therefore eligible for a federal trademark. The PTO appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    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 do not recognize the term as generic. In those circumstances, “generic.com” (or, in this case, “Booking.com”) is eligible for federal trademark registration.

    Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion. Justice Breyer dissented.

July 6

  • Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc. was argued on May 6, 2020.

    The case: In 2016, the American Association of Political Consultants, Inc. and three other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court against the U.S. government. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the government-debt exception to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The government-debt exception allows robocalls relating to collecting government debt.

    On appeal, the 4th Circuit ruled against the U.S. Government, directing the government-debt exception to be separated from the remainder of the TCPA. The government appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The outcome: The court affirmed the 4th Circuit’s decision in a 6-3 opinion, holding that the government-debt exception added an unconstitutional exception to the law. The court also held that the exception is severable from the remainder of the TCPA.

    Justice Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion. Justice Breyer concurred in the judgment and dissented in part, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan. Justice Gorsuch concurred in the judgment in part and dissented in part, joined by Justice Thomas as to Part II.

  • Chiafalo v. Washington was argued on May 13, 2020.

    The case: Washington state law required Democratic Party-appointed presidential electors to vote for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in the 2016 election, but the electors voted contrary to that law. The Washington secretary of state fined the electors $1,000 each for failure to vote for the nominee of their party. The electors challenged the penalties’ constitutionality. After litigation in state courts, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the fines.

    The outcome: The court affirmed the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in a unanimous ruling. The court held that a state may enforce an elector’s pledge to support their party’s nominee and the state voters’ choice for president of the United States.

    Justice Kagan wrote the majority opinion.

  • Colorado Department of State v. Baca was argued on May 13, 2020. It was originally consolidated with Chiafalo v. Washington. The court later considered the cases separately.

    The case: Presidential electors in Colorado did not cast Electoral College ballots for the winner of the popular vote, which violated state law.

    The outcome: In an 8-0 per curiam decision (Justice Sotomayor did not participate), the court reversed the 10th Circuit’s ruling for the reasons outlined in Chiafalo v. Washington. A per curiam decision is issued collectively by the court without authorship indicated. Click here for more information.

July 8

  • Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania was argued on May 6, 2020. It was consolidated with Trump v. Pennsylvania.

    The case: The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, requires some employers who provide health insurance to their employees to offer insurance plans that cover contraceptives (the “contraception mandate”). After several years of litigation, including two U.S. Supreme Court decisions surrounding regulatory accommodations for religious and moral objections to contraception under the ACA, the Trump administration issued regulations allowing for exceptions to the contraceptive mandate. Several states filed lawsuits against the Trump administration and lower courts blocked the rules from going into effect.

    The 3rd Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction that kept the rules from going into effect. The Little Sisters of the Poor appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the 3rd Circuit wrongly denied the organization standing to appeal the court’s decision against the contraceptive mandate exemption rules.

    The outcome: The court ruled 7-2 that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury had the legal authority to create the challenged exemptions and that they followed proper procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act. The majority also held that the Little Sisters of the Poor had standing to participate in the case.

    Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion. Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Sotomayor.

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru was argued on May 11, 2020. It was consolidated with St. James School v. Biel.

    The case: In both cases, two Catholic school teachers filed discrimination claims in U.S. district court against their former employers after they were not offered contract renewals. The district court ruled that the ministerial exception to the First Amendment barred the claims. That meant the employers were protected religious organizations exempted from anti-discrimination employment laws. On appeal, the 9th Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling. Our Lady of Guadalupe School appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The outcome: The court reversed the 9th Circuit’s decision in a 7-2 ruling, holding that the schools are protected religious organizations and the First Amendment’s religion clauses prevent the adjudication of the defendant’s employment discrimination claims.

    Justice Alito delivered the majority opinion. Justice Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Ginsburg.

July 9

  • McGirt v. Oklahoma was argued on May 11, 2020.

    The case: A jury in Oklahoma’s Wagoner County District Court found Jimcy McGirt guilty of three counts of sex crimes. He was sentenced to 500 years in prison and life in prison without parole. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA), the state’s court of last resort for criminal matters, denied McGirt’s petition for appeal. McGirt appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Oklahoma courts lacked jurisdiction to hear his case because of his membership in the Seminole/Creek Nations of Oklahoma and because the alleged crimes occurred on a reservation.

    The outcome: The court reversed the OCCA’s decision in a 5-4 ruling, holding that under the Indian Major Crimes Act, lands reserved for the Creek Nation in eastern Oklahoma constituted a reservation. As a result, the state of Oklahoma could not legally try a Creek citizen for criminal conduct in state court.
    Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Alito and Kavanaugh. Justice Thomas joined in part. He also filed a separate dissenting opinion.

  • Sharp v. Murphy was argued on November 27, 2018, during the court’s 2018-2019 term. After oral arguments, the court announced it would rehear the case in the 2019-20 term. That announcement indicated a 4-4 split among the justices. (Justice Gorsuch recused himself because of his previous tenure on the 10th Circuit.)

    The court never scheduled rearguments for Sharp v. Murphy. Instead, the justices agreed to hear McGirt v. Oklahoma, which concerned the same legal issues.

    The outcome: The court affirmed the 10th Circuit’s decision in a one-page per curiam ruling. The court’s affirmation was based on the reasons stated in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

  • Trump v. Vance was argued on May 12, 2020.

    The case: In 2019, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D) opened an investigation into President Trump’s business dealings. Vance issued a subpoena to the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. The president challenged the subpoena in U.S. district court, arguing the subpoena violated presidential immunity. The district court dismissed the president’s complaint. On appeal, the 2nd Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of the complaint. The president appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The outcome: The court affirmed the 2nd Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings in a 7-2 opinion. The court held that Article II of the U.S. Constitution and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting president.

    Chief Justice Roberts delivered the majority opinion. Justices Thomas and Alito dissented.

  • Trump v. Mazars USA was argued on May 12, 2020. It was consolidated with Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG.

    The case: U.S. House committees issued subpoenas requesting financial documents from the president, his children, and affiliated businesses. The president, acting in his individual capacity, challenged the subpoenas. The case concerned whether issuing the subpoenas exceeded the House’s constitutional authority.

    The outcome: The court vacated the D.C. Circuit’s decision in a 7-2 ruling and remanded the case. The court held that the lower courts did not adequately consider whether congressional subpoenas requesting information from the president raise separation of powers concerns.

    Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the court. Justices Thomas and Alito each filed dissenting opinions.

Opinion authorship

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch wrote the most opinions this term. Compared to the previous term, Chief Justice Roberts wrote the same number of opinions and Justice Gorsuch wrote less.

Justices Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh all wrote more opinions last term than this term. However, several of this term’s cases were postponed to the upcoming term due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from June 2 to July 1.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the previous 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 previous report.
  • Confirmations: There have been three new confirmations since the previous report.

Vacancy count for July 2, 2020

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

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

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map displays U.S. District Court vacancies as of July 1.

New nominations

President Trump has announced two new nominations since the previous report.

  • James P. Arguelles, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
  • Taylor McNeel, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

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.

New confirmations

Between June 2 and July 1, the Senate confirmed three of the president’s nominees to Article III courts.

Between January 2017 and July 2, 2020, the Senate 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.

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 the president has nominated.

We’ll be back August 10 with a new edition of Bold Justice.



Bold Justice: June 29, 2020

Welcome to the June 29 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. Need something to read while you’re barbequing on July 4? Check us out on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew.

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.

Thirteen cases have not been scheduled for argument. Of those, 12 are set to be rescheduled for the October 2020-21 term. The cases were originally scheduled for oral argument in March and April, but those sessions were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The remaining unscheduled case is Sharp v. Murphy. SCOTUS never scheduled arguments for Sharp v. Murphy in the current term. Instead, the justices agreed to hear another case, McGirt v. Oklahoma, which concerns the same legal issues. Oral arguments for McGirt took place on May 11 and a decision is pending.

Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming 2020-21 term.

Opinions

SCOTUS has issued two opinions since our June 22 issue. The court has issued rulings in 47 cases so far this term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since June 22:

June 22

  • Liu v. SEC was argued on March 3, 2020.

    The case: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued business partners Charles Liu and Lisa Wang, alleging they had misappropriated funds and defrauded investors in their EB-5 visa business. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favor of the SEC, finding that Liu and Wang violated the Securities Act of 1933, and imposed civil penalties in addition to a disgorgement order requiring Liu and Wang to surrender to the SEC the millions of dollars they raised from investors.

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Liu and Wang appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the SEC lacked the legal authority to ask the district court to impose a disgorgement order.

    Disgorgement is a “remedy requiring a party who profits from illegal or wrongful acts to give up any profits he or she made as a result of his or her illegal or wrongful conduct.”

    The outcome: In an 8-1 ruling, the court vacated 9th Circuit’s decision and remanded the case. The court said the SEC has the power to seek disgorgement orders as long as the orders do not exceed the wrongdoer’s net profit and as long as the money goes toward repaying any victims.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion.

June 25

  • Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam was argued on March 2, 2020.

    The case: Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan native, entered the United States without legal permission in 2017 by crossing the border with Mexico. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer apprehended Thuraissigiam and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began expedited removal proceedings. An asylum officer and later an immigration judge decided Thuraissigiam did not have a credible fear of persecution in Sri Lanka.

    Thuraissigiam filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, ruling the court was not authorized to review claims under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(e).

    On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling. The 9th Circuit held that § 1252(e)(2) violated Thuraissigiam’s rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Suspension Clause, which bars suspension of a writ of habeas corpus once it has been issued. DHS appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    8 U.S.C. § 1252(e) provides that judicial review of expedited removal orders is available in habeas corpus proceedings with certain limitations.

    The outcome: The court ruled against Thuraissigiam in a 7-2 opinion, holding 8 U.S.C. § 1252(e) does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Suspension or Due Process clauses. In other words, “asylum-seekers whose initial asylum claims are denied by immigration officials have no right to a hearing in federal court.”

    Justice Samuel Alito delivered the court’s opinion. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, dissented.

How are opinions released?

The court announces opinions on the homepage of its website, supremecourt.gov, and on the Opinions of the Court – 2019 page. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the court has been releasing opinions online.

SCOTUS does not announce in advance which cases will be decided on a given day or how many opinions will be released. Opinions are released in order of reverse seniority of the authoring justice in 10-minute intervals.

For more information on how SCOTUS releases orders and opinions, click here.

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • June 29: SCOTUS will release orders and opinions.
  • June 30: SCOTUS will release opinions.
  • July 1: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
  • July 2: SCOTUS will release orders.

The U.S. Supreme Court usually finishes releasing all opinions for the term by the end of June. This year might be different. When was the last time SCOTUS issued opinions into July?

  1. 2001
  2. 1996
  3. 1989
  4. 1968

Confirmations

The Senate has confirmed one new nominee since our June 22 issue.

Since January 2017, 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.

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.

Nominations

President Trump has not announced any new Article III nominees since our June 22 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 80 vacancies. As of publication, there were 50 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional four 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 not reported any new nominees out of committee since our June 22 edition.

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.


We’ll be back on July 13 with a new edition of Bold Justice.


Bold Justice: Twas the night before arguments…

Bold Justice banner

Bold Justice: Twas the night before arguments…

Twas the night before arguments, and all through the court, not a brief was stirring, not even about tort; the robes were hung by the bench with care, in hopes that the justices soon would be there… 

Welcome to the December 9 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. While you settle your brains for a long winter nap, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew to catch up on the latest political news.

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in six cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week:

December 9

  • In Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr, Pedro Pablo Guerrero-Lasprilla, a Colombian national living in the United States, was deported in 1998 after being convicted of aggravated felonies. In 2016, Guerrero-Lasprilla petitioned to reopen his removal proceedings. An immigration judge denied the petition on the grounds it was untimely. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied the appeal. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. The case is consolidated with Ovalles v. Barr.

    The issue: (1) Is a request for equitable tolling—in which a plaintiff can bring a claim if they did not discover an injury until after the statute of limitations had expired—judicially reviewable as a “question of law?”

    (2) Whether the criminal alien bar, 8 U.S.C. §1252(a)(2)(C), tempered by §1252(a)(2)(D), prohibits a court from reviewing an agency decision finding that a petitioner lacked diligence for equitable tolling purposes, notwithstanding the lack of a factual dispute.
  • In Thryv Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP, Inforocket.com, Inc. sued Keen, Inc. in 2001 for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,818,836 (the “836 Patent”). In 2003, the companies merged and the charges were dropped. The companies later became Dex Media, Inc. In 2011, Click-To-Call Technologies, LP (“CTC”) acquired the 836 Patent. In 2012, CTC filed charges of patent infringement against Dex Media. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) allowed for an inter partes review (IPR) of the patent challenge.

    An IPR is a procedure that allows a third party to both challenge a patent claim and request a review of the challenge before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as long as the challenge is filed within a statutory time limit.

    CTC challenged the IPR, arguing it was barred from time limitations under Title 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The Board rejected CTC’s time bar challenge and ruled in favor of Dex Media. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a split decision vacating the Board’s grant of IPR. Dex Media petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. In July 2019, Dex Media changed its name to Thryv, Inc.

    The issue: Whether 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) permits appeal of the Board’s decision to institute an IPR upon finding that § 315(b)’s one-year time bar did not apply.

    Title 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) reads, “The determination by the Director whether to institute an inter partes review under this section shall be final and nonappealable.”

December 10

  • In Maine Community Health Options v. United States, as part of Section 1342 of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government established a program to lessen the risk of insurers entering the new health insurance marketplace. Under the program, the government agreed to pay a portion of the costs to insurers who experienced higher-than-expected costs. In 2014, Congress included appropriations riders, or provisions, barring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from using its appropriations toward Section 1342 payments.

    Insurer Maine Community Health Options sued the federal government to recover nearly $57 million in unpaid debts. Maine Community Health Options believed the government was legally obligated to pay the debts under Section 1342 of the ACA. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held the government was not obligated to distribute payments under Section 1342 because of Congress’ appropriations provisions.

    The case was consolidated with Moda Health Plan Inc. v. United States and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. v. United States.

    The issue: According to Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog, “U.S. Supreme Court precedent disfavors allowing Congress to use appropriations acts to repeal laws by implication. In this case, the court will decide whether an appropriations rider may block an agency from using funds to fulfill a statutory requirement without explicitly repealing that underlying requirement.”

  • In Holguin-Hernandez v. U.S., Gonzalo Holguin-Hernandez pleaded guilty to violating his supervised release by committing a new offense. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas revoked his term of supervised release and sentenced him to one year in prison to be served consecutively with the sentence from his new conviction. Holguin-Hernandez challenged his one-year sentence as greater than necessary under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). On appeal, the 5th Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment.

    The issue: Whether a formal objection after the pronouncement of a sentence is necessary to invoke an appellate reasonableness review of the length of a defendant’s sentence.

December 11

  • Monasky v. Taglieri concerns the standard of review for “habitual residence” and how to establish “habitual residence” for purposes of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

    Domenico Taglieri, an Italian, and Michelle Monasky, an American, were a married couple living in Italy when they had a daughter, A.M.T. Both parents began applications for Italian and U.S. passports for their daughter. In 2015, Taglieri revoked his permission for A.M.T.’s U.S. passport. Two weeks later, Monasky took A.M.T. to the United States. Taglieri petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio for A.M.T’s return to Italy under the Hague Convention. The district court granted Taglieri’s petition. On appeal, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed the district court’s ruling.

    The issue: (1) Whether a district court’s determination of habitual residence under the Hague Convention should be reviewed de novo—without deference to a prior or lower court’s findingsas seven circuits have held; under a deferential version of de novo review, as the First Circuit has held; or under clear-error review, as the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held.

    (2) Where an infant is too young to acclimate to her surroundings, whether a subjective agreement between the infant’s parents is necessary to establish her habitual residence under the Hague Convention.
  • In McKinney v. Arizona, James McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the sentence after an independent review. A federal district court denied McKinney’s petition for habeas corpus. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals instructed the district court to grant the habeas corpus petition. After another independent review, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence.

    The issue: (1) Whether the Arizona Supreme Court was required to apply current law when weighing mitigating and aggravating evidence to determine whether a death sentence is warranted.

    (2) Whether the correction of error under Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104 (1982), requires resentencing.

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in December:

  • December 9: 
    • SCOTUS will release orders.
    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 10: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 11: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 13: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

SCOTUS trivia

On the Supreme Court’s traditional seal, how many stars are beneath the eagle’s claws?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. None

Choose an answer to find out!

Federal court action

Confirmations

The Senate has confirmed eight nominees since our December 2 issue.

Overall, the Senate has confirmed 172 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—120 district court judges, 48 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Nominations

President Trump has not announced any new Article III nominees since our December 2 edition.

The president has announced 234 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Judicial nominations by month

Vacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 97 vacancies. As of publication, there were 58 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 18 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 not reported any new nominees out of committee since our December 2 edition.

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.

Court in the spotlight

In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

In this edition, we’re visiting the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The District of Delaware has original jurisdiction over cases filed in Delaware. Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The District of Delaware has four authorized judgeships. There are currently no vacancies. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:

  • Barack Obama (D): Two judges
  • Donald Trump (R): Two judges

Looking ahead

Bold Justice will be back January 6 with more information on the federal judiciary.

… We sprang to the court, where the marshall said “oyez,” and arguments began for the day. But Ballotpedia exclaimed, ere the holidays were in sight, happy SCOTUS to all, and to all a good night!



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