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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for April 2022

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts during the month of April through May 1, 2022. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Four 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.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of Pres. Joe Biden (D) and at the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at Biden’s inauguration and as of May 1, 2022.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of May 1, 2022.

New nominations

Biden announced 10 new nominations since the previous report. Since taking office in Jan. 2021, Biden has nominated 93 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed two nominees since the previous report.

As of May 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 60 of Biden’s judicial nominees—44 district court judges, 15 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

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Biden has appointed most federal judges through May 1 of a president’s second year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed 60 Article III federal judges through May 1 of Biden’s second year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 33 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through May 1 of their second year in office is 44.

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Five presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, Trump, and Biden) made one appointment. Two presidents (H.W. Bush and W. Bush) had not appointed any.
  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 12. Biden and Trump tied for the most appointees with 15, followed by Reagan with 13. Clinton appointed the fewest with five.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 41. Biden and Reagan tied for the most appointees with 44, followed by W. Bush with 43. Obama appointed the fewest with 11.

Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for March 2022

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts during the month of March through April 1, 2022. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Four 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.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and at the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at Biden’s inauguration and as of April 1, 2022.

New nominations

Biden has announced no new nominations since the February 2022 report. Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 83 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed 12 nominees since the previous report.

As of April 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 58 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—43 district court judges and 15 appeals court judges. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

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Biden has appointed most federal judges through April 1 of a president’s second year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 58 Article III federal judges through April 1 of his second year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 29 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through April 1 of their second year in office is 39.

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Four presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump) had made one appointment. Three presidents (H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Biden) had not appointed any.
  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is eight. Biden had made the most appointees with 15, followed by Trump with 14. Clinton had appointed the fewest with four.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 35. Biden had made the most appointees with 43, followed by Reagan with 40. Obama had appointed the fewest with 11.

Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

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

Through April 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 74 vacancies. Seventy-two of those were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.

  • In the past month, 12 judges have been confirmed
  • In the past month, no judges have been nominated*

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

By April 1, 437 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 83 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison:** 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 104 individuals, 76 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 59 individuals, 54 of which were confirmed.
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 138 individuals, 83 of which 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 overall status of the federal judiciary during their respective administrations and is intended solely to track nominations by president by day.

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Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 34 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal, 94 U.S. district courts, and on the Court of International Trade. These are lifetime appointments made by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

These positions are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future with every judge having announced his or her intent to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges will continue to serve in their current positions.

The president and Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before they can start the confirmation process for a successor. For example, the process has already begun for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he vacates the seat at the beginning of the court’s summer recess. There are six nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

Twenty-two vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date he or she will leave the bench. The next upcoming scheduled vacancy will take place on April 17, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Judge John Mendez assumes senior status.

In addition to these 34 upcoming vacancies, there are 73 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of the 870 total Article III judgeships. 

President Biden has nominated 83 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Fifty-eight of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 25 nominees going through the confirmation process, 11 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, six are awaiting a committee vote, and eight are awaiting a committee hearing.



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

Through March 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 80 vacancies. Seventy-eight of those vacancies were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime judgeships.

  • In the past month, one judge has been confirmed
  • In the past month, two judges have been nominated*.

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

By March 1, 406 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 83 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison**: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 104 individuals, 76 of whom were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 52 individuals, 47 of whom were ultimately confirmed.
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 132 individuals, 77 of whom were ultimately 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.

Additional reading:



President Biden nominates eight to Article III courts

President Joe Biden (D) nominated eight individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms on Jan. 19:

To date, Biden has nominated 81 individuals to federal judgeships. Forty-one of the nominees have been confirmed.

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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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.

Additional reading: