Tagjudicial

Supreme Court announces it will use teleconferencing to hear oral arguments for November, December sittings

The Supreme Court of the United States announced on October 9, 2020, that it will hear oral arguments via teleconference for its November and December sittings. Currently, eight arguments are set for November, and ten are set for December.

The court previously heard oral arguments via teleconference in May and October of this year after closing to the public indefinitely on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live audio from the arguments was made available to the public for the first time in the court’s history; previously, the court released audio and transcripts of oral arguments on Fridays.

The arguments will follow the same format the court used formerly, including rules dictating which Justices will ask questions based on seniority.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for September

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from September 2, 2020, to October 1, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the previous report. There are 59 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, 64 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

Nominations: There have been four new nominations since the previous report.

Confirmations: There have been 15 new confirmations since the previous report.

New vacancies

There were 59 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 6.3, which is 1.5 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in August 2020.

• One (11.1%) of the nine U.S. Supreme Court seats is vacant.

• None of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.

• 56 (8.3%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.

• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.

Two judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. As Article III judicial positions, these 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.

1. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020, vacating her seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

2. Judge Pamela Reeves died on September 10, 2020, vacating her seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

*New nominations*

President Trump has announced four new nominations since the August 2020 report.

Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Charles Atchley, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Katherine Crytzer, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Joseph Dawson, to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 271 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

Since September 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 15 of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of October 1, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 218 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—161 district court judges, 53 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Roderick Young, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

John Hinderaker, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Iain Johnston, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Franklin Valderrama, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

David Dugan, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Stephen P. McGlynn, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Todd Robinson, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Stanley Blumenfeld, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

John Holcomb, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Mark Scarsi, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Diane Gujarati, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Thomas Cullen, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Hala Jarbou, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Christy Wiegand, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Brett Ludwig, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

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