Tagjudicial

Fourteen appellate court judges are on the ballot in Missouri this year

Two judges on the Missouri Supreme Court and 12 judges on the Missouri Court of Appeals have terms expiring on Dec. 31. Each of these judges must stand for a retention election this year in order to remain on the court. 

A retention election is a simple yes-no election where the judge is the only person on the ballot. If the judge receives a majority of yes votes, he or she remains on the court for another term. If the judge receives a majority of no votes, his or her term expires at the end of the year and the governor will appoint replacements. Judges on each court serve 12-year terms but must retire at age 70.

Robin Ransom and Zel Fischer are the two judges on the Missouri Supreme Court up for retention. Ransom was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson (R) in May 2021 after serving on the Missouri Court of Appeals from 2019 to 2021. Zel Fischer was appointed to the court by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2008. Seven judges serve on the court: four of the current members were appointed by Republican governors and three were appointed by Democratic governors.

To see the full list of judges running for retention to the Missouri Court of Appeals, click here. The court is split into three districts: Eastern, Southern, and Western. The Eastern District is headquartered in St. Louis and has 14 judges. The Southern District is headquartered in Springfield and has seven judges. The Western District is headquartered in Kansas City and has 11 judges.

Several other types of offices are on the ballot in Missouri this year, including one U.S. Senate seat, eight U.S. House seats, 17 state Senate seats, 163 state House seats, and state auditor. There are also two certified statewide ballot measures this year along with dozens more potential measures yet to be certified.

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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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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for February 2022

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

HIGHLIGHTS

Two 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 March 1, 2022.

New nominations

Biden has announced two new nominations since the January 2022 report.

Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 83 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed one nominee since the previous report.

As of March 1, the Senate had confirmed 46 of Biden’s judicial nominees—32 district court judges and 14 appeals court judges. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

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Federal judicial nomination, confirmations in first week of February

The U.S. Senate confirmed three of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees on Feb. 1 to lifetime Article III judgeships on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio:

Biden nominated Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Feb. 2 to replace Judge Helene White, who will assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. Currently, Davis is a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was nominated to that court by President Donald Trump (R) and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2019. 

Since taking office, Biden has nominated 82 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. To date, 45 of the nominees have been confirmed. 

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for January 2022

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

HIGHLIGHTS

Five 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 from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.

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

New nominations

Biden has announced eight new nominations since the December 2021 report.

Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 82 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations

There have been five new confirmations since the December 2021 report.

As of Feb. 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 45 of Biden’s judicial nominees—32 district court judges and 13 appeals court judges. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.

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Governors appoint new supreme court justices in two states

Alaska and Arizona have new state supreme court justices after appointments from their respective governors. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Jennifer Stuart Henderson to the Alaska Supreme Court on July 7, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Kathryn Hackett King to the Arizona Supreme Court on July 8.

Alaska

A seat on the Alaska Supreme Court became vacant when former Chief Justice Joel Bolger retired on June 30, 2021. Gov. Dunleavy selected Jennifer Stuart Henderson for the seat from a list of three finalists forwarded by the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC). Henderson is Gov. Dunleavy’s second nominee to the five-member supreme court.

On July 1, Dunleavy asked the AJC to reconsider its list of nominees and put forward a new slate to fill the vacancy. However, under the council’s bylaws, it may not reconsider nominees that have been sent to the governor except in specific circumstances. Ultimately, Dunleavy appointed Henderson from the original slate of three names put forward by the AJC.

Prior to her appointment to the supreme court, Henderson served as a judge on the Alaska superior court. She was appointed to the superior court in 2012 by former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). Her career experience also includes working as an assistant district attorney in Anchorage and as an attorney in private practice with the law firm of Farley & Graves. After law school, she served as a clerk for former Alaska Supreme Court Justice Warren Matthews. Henderson earned a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Arizona

A seat on the Arizona Supreme Court became vacant when former Justice Andrew W. Gould retired on April 1, 2021. Gov. Ducey selected Kathryn Hackett King for the seat from a slate of nominees put forward by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. King is Gov. Ducey’s sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Before her appointment to the supreme court, King was a partner at the law firm of BurnsBarton PLC. She also served as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents. From 2015 to 2017, King served as the deputy general counsel to Gov. Ducey. She previously practiced law at Snell & Wilmer LLP. After graduation from law school, King clerked for former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan from 2007 to 2008. She is the fifth woman in Arizona history to serve on the state supreme court.

King earned a B.A. in political science from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

In 2021, there have been 14 supreme court vacancies in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. To date, nine of those 14 vacancies have been filled.

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U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling in two cases on July 1

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in two cases on July 1. One case—Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta—was argued during the court’s April sitting, while Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee was argued during the court’s March sitting.

In Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta, the Thomas More Law Center and Americans for Prosperity challenged a California policy requirement that tax-exempt §501(c)(3) charitable organizations must disclose the names and addresses of major donors. The groups argued that the policy violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled in favor of the state. However, in a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court was correct in entering judgment in favor of the petitioners and permanently enjoining the California Attorney General from collecting their Schedule B forms. SCOTUS ruled that the Ninth Circuit erred when it vacated those injunctions and directed the entry of judgment for the attorney general. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Samuel Alito filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan..

With a 6-3 opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy and HB 2023 did not violate §2 of the Voting Rights Act, and that HB 2023 was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The court issued 67 opinions this term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Ten cases were decided without argument. 

Additional reading:

Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta

Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee



Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for June 2021

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

HIGHLIGHTS

Vacancies: There have been three new judicial vacancies since the May 2021 report. There are 78 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, 82 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

Nominations: There were 11 new nominations since the May 2021 report.

Confirmations: There were seven confirmations since the May 2021 report.

New vacancies

There are 78 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 9%.

  • The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
  • Seven (3.9%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.
  • 69 (10.3%) of the 673 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.*
  • Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.

*District court count does not include territorial courts.

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

  • Judge John Dowdell assumed senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
  • Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby left her seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims when she was elevated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
  • Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson left her seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia when she was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

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

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and as of July 1, 2021.

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) has announced 11 new nominations since the May 2021 report.

  • Toby Heytens, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • Myrna Pérez, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
  • Jennifer Sung, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
  • Jane Beckering, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • Jia Cobb, to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Shalina Kumar, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • Sarah A.L. Merriam, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
  • Michael Nachmanoff, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Sarala Nagala, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
  • Patricia Tolliver Giles, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Omar A. Williams, to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

New confirmations

As of July 1, 2021, the Senate has confirmed seven of President Biden’s judicial nominees—two appeals court judges and five district court judges—since January 2021.

  • Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
  • Deborah Boardman, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Lydia Kay Griggsby, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Julien Xavier Neals, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Zahid Quraishi, to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Regina Rodriguez, to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Additional reading:

Current Federal Judicial Vacancies

Federal Judges Nominated by Joe Biden

Federal Judicial Appointments by President

Judicial Vacancies during the Biden administration

United States Federal Courts



President Biden announces fifth slate of federal judicial nominees

President Joe Biden (D) announced his intent to nominate his fifth slate of judicial nominees on June 30, which included six individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms:

• Toby Heytens, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

• Jennifer Sung, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

• Jane Beckering, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan

• Patricia Tolliver Giles, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

• Shalina Kumar, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

• Michael Nachmanoff, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

To date, Biden has nominated 30 individuals to federal judgeships. Seven of the nominees have been confirmed. There were 82 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary as of July 1.

As of his inauguration in January 2021, Biden inherited 46 Article III vacancies: two vacancies in the U.S. courts of appeal, 43 vacancies in the U.S. district courts, and one vacancy on the U.S. Court of International Trade. Biden announced his first federal judicial nominees on March 30.

Biden’s announcement on June 30 also included two nominees to Article I courts:

• Armando Bonilla, to the United States Court of Federal Claims

• Carolyn Lerner, to the United States Court of Federal Claims

Article I courts are federal courts organized under Article I of the United States Constitution. They are created by Congress and have differing levels of independence from the executive and legislative branches. Examples of Article I courts include the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the Court of Military Commission Review, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts.

Biden also announced his intent to nominate one individual to the local D.C. superior court:

• Sean Staples, to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., has two local courts: the superior court—a trial court of general jurisdiction—and a court of appeals. Justices on these courts are nominated by the U.S. president after recommendation from the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission; they then face confirmation by the U.S. Senate. D.C. judges are appointed to 15-year renewable terms.

Additional reading:

Judicial selection in Washington, D.C.

Judicial vacancies in federal courts

Judicial vacancies during the Biden administration



Supreme Court issues opinions in three cases on June 29

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases on June 29. To date, the court has issued 64 opinions for its 2020-2021 term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion and nine cases were decided without argument. Two cases argued during the term have yet to be decided.

Johnson v. Guzman Chavez (formerly Albence v. Guzman Chavez) concerned the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and the statutory authority under which the government detains immigrants seeking to overturn deportation after a reinstated removal order. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. 

In a 6-3 opinion, the court reversed the decision of the 4th Circuit, holding that 8 U.S.C. § 1231 governs the detention of aliens subject to reinstated orders of removal. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissent joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc. concerned patent infringement claims and the doctrine of assignor estoppel. The case came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court vacated the Federal Circuit’s judgement and remanded the case for further proceedings. It held that the Federal Circuit was right to uphold assignor estoppel, but assignor estoppel applies only when the assignor’s claim of invalidity contradicts explicit or implicit representations they made in assigning the patent. Justice Kagan wrote the majority opinion of the court. Justices Alito and Amy Coney Barrett filed dissenting opinions. Barrett’s dissent was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey concerned jurisdictional requirements of eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed the 3rd Circuit’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Section 717f(h) authorizes FERC certificate holders to condemn all necessary rights-of-way, whether owned by private parties or by states. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Thomas, Kagan, and Gorsuch

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