Twenty-seven upcoming Article III judicial vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 27 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships as of January 5, 2022. Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of International Trade, or one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal or 94 U.S. district courts. 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, Rachel Bloomekatz was nominated to replace Judge R. Guy Cole who retires on Jan. 9, 2023. There are currently 6 nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

Eight 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 Jan. 9, 2023, when United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole assumes senior status.

In addition to these 27 upcoming vacancies, there are 84 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of the 870 total Article III judgeships. Including non-Article III judges from the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, there are 86 vacancies out of 890 active federal judicial positions.

President Biden has nominated 148 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Ninety-seven of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 46 nominees going through the confirmation process, 29 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, 10 are awaiting a committee vote, and seven are awaiting a committee hearing.

Nevada Supreme Court Justice Abbi Silver retires

Nevada Supreme Court Justice Abbi Silver retired on Sept. 29, 2022. Silver was the only judge in Nevada’s history to be elected to every court in the state’s court system.

Silver was elected to the state supreme court in 2018, filling the seat vacated by Justice Michael Douglas. Prior to this election, Silver served on the Nevada Court of Appeals from 2015 to 2019. She was one of three judges appointed to form the court, which was created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment. Silver became chief judge of the court on Jan. 2, 2017. She also served on the Las Vegas Municipal Court, Las Vegas Justice Court, and the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court.

In the event of a midterm vacancy, the Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection solicits and screens applicants. The commission presents a list of three nominees to the governor, who appoints one to fill the vacancy until the next general election. If the predecessor’s term is not expiring that election cycle, the appointed justice must win election to the court in order to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

In 2022, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies in 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements.

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Number of major party candidates on the primary ballot for state judicial offices in 2022

In 2022, there were 88 state judicial positions up for partisan election in states that select judges using partisan elections. One-hundred sixty major party candidates were on the primary ballot in those races, including 72 Democrats, or 45% of all major party candidates who ran, and 88 Republicans, or 55% of all major party candidates who ran.

The percentage of major party candidates this year who identified as Democrats was lower than in 2020, when 51.27% of major party candidates did, but higher than in 2018, when 38.12% did.

Conversely, the percentage of major party candidates who identified as Republicans this year was higher than in 2020, when 48.73% did, but lower than in 2018, when 61.88% did.

There were 0.82 Democratic candidates on the ballot per state judicial seat this year. That’s fewer than the 1.11 Democrats per seat who appeared on the ballot in 2020 and more than the 0.71 Democrats per seat who appeared in 2018.

There was one Republican candidate on the ballot per state judicial seat in 2022. That’s fewer than the 1.05 Republicans per seat who appeared on the ballot in 2020 and the 1.15 Republicans per seat who appeared in 2018.

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

Through August 1, 2022, there were 890 authorized federal judicial posts and 77 vacancies. Seventy-five of those were for Article III judgeships. This report is limited to Article III courts, where appointees are confirmed to lifetime terms.

  • In the past month, five judges have been confirmed
  • In the past month, 25 judges have been nominated*.

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

By August 1, 559 days in office, President Joe Biden (D) had nominated 130 judges to Article III judgeships. For historical comparison**: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 158 individuals, 86 of which were ultimately confirmed to their positions.
  • President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 90 individuals, 65 of which were confirmed.
  • President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 163 individuals, 100 of which were confirmed.

**Note: The total nominations 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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Judicial vacancies in federal courts

Federal judges nominated by Joe Biden

The Federal Judicial Vacancy Count 8/1/2022

Biden appointed second-most federal judges through July 1 of a president’s second year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed 69 Article III federal judges through July 1 of Biden’s second year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. President Bill Clinton (D) appointed the most judges by this point in his presidency with 72. The Senate had confirmed 42 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through July 1 of their second year in office is 56.

  • 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 14. Trump had the most appointees with 21, followed by Biden with 16. Obama appointed the fewest with nine.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 48. Clinton had the most appointees with 60, followed by Biden with 52. Trump appointed the fewest with 20.

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 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.


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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Kathryn Hackett King appointed to Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed Kathryn Hackett King to the state supreme court on July 8. The seat became vacant in April when former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew W. Gould retired. King is Gov. Ducey’s sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

At the time she was appointed, King was a partner at the law firm of BurnsBarton PLC. From 2015 to 2017, King served as Gov. Ducey’s deputy general counsel. She previously practiced law at Snell & Wilmer LLP. After graduating from law school, King clerked for former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan from 2007 to 2008. 

A newly-appointed justice must stand for retention in the next general election after two years to remain on the court. That means King must run for retention in 2024. If retained, King will then begin a six-year term on the bench.

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Arizona Supreme Court

State Supreme Court Vacancies, 2021

New York Court of Appeals Justice Eugene Fahey announces retirement

On November 10, 2020, State of New York Court of Appeals Justice Eugene Fahey announced his retirement from the court, scheduled for December 31, 2021, when he reaches the court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years old.

Justice Fahey joined the State of New York Court of Appeals in 2015. He was appointed to the court by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Before serving on the state supreme court, Fahey served on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division from December 22, 2006, until 2015. He served on the court’s Criminal Division in 2005. Fahey was elected to the State Supreme Court in 1996, where he also presided over cases in Erie County and the 8th Judicial District. He served on the court until 2005. Fahey was elected to the Buffalo City Court in 1994 and served until 1996. He served as a law clerk to Judge Edgar C. NeMoyer in the New York Court of Claims before entering private practice in 1985, where he served as house counsel for Kemper Insurance Company until 1993. Fahey served on the Buffalo Common Council from 1978 to 1983 and again from 1988 to 1994.

Fahey earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, cum laude, in 1974. He earned a J.D. in 1984 and a master’s degree in European history in 1998.

The seven justices of the New York Court of Appeals serve 14-year terms. They are appointed by the governor from a list of candidates provided by a judicial nominating commission, pending confirmation from the New York Senate.

The current chief justice of the court is Janet DiFiore, who was appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2015. 

The remaining four active justices of the court are:

• Jenny Rivera – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2013

• Michael Garcia – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016

• Rowan Wilson – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2017

• Paul Feinman – Appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 2017

Associate Justice Leslie Stein is also scheduled to retire from the court in 2021, on June 4. At the time of the announcement, no reason was given for Stein’s retirement.

As of November 16, 2020, there are four supreme court vacancies scheduled to occur in 2021 in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were triggered by retirements.

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One Alaska Supreme Court justice seeks retention in November

Alaska Supreme Court Justice Susan Carney is seeking retention on November 3, 2020. She was appointed by Gov. Bill Walker (I) in 2016.

Currently, four of the justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor while one was appointed by an independent governor.

The governor appoints the five justices of the supreme court through a hybrid nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Alaska State Bar Association has majority control over the judicial nominating commission. The Alaska Judicial Council is made up of seven members: three lawyers (appointed by the board of governors of the Alaska Bar Association), three non-lawyer members (appointed by the governor and confirmed by a majority of the legislature in joint session), and is chaired by the chief justice of the supreme court.

New justices must face a retention election during the next general election after they serve at least three years on the bench. Justices then stand for retention every ten years with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Since 2008, justices facing retention elections have won 98% of the time. In Alaska, there has not been a single justice that lost retention during this same time frame.

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