On the Bench: Federal Judiciary

ACS's Judicial News Roundup

Weekly roundup of judicial nominations activity.

This Week

October 15, 2020

Despite the full Senate being on recess until October 19 due to a coronavirus outbreak, the Senate Judiciary Committee plowed ahead with Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court this week.

The questions to the nominee often centered around the real-world stakes of her potential confirmation. The Democratic members of the Committee raised numerous questions about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges, and more. However, Judge Barrett was evasive and offered very little in terms of substance in her answers.

One major focus of numerous questions was how Judge Barrett would treat precedent, should she be confirmed. While Judge Barrett would acknowledge that Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia were correctly decided, she refused to say the same about  Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, or Obergefell v. Hodges.

On Thursday, the Committee took the unprecedented step of holding Judge Barrett over before hearing from expert witnesses. By holding Judge Barrett over on Thursday, Chairman Lindsey Graham has set up a full Committee vote on the nominee on October 22 at 1pm. This accelerated timeline still puts Judge Barrett on track to be confirmed before Election Day.

As of October 15, there are 61 Article III vacancies, 59 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 36 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 4 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 22 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

Previous Weeks

October 9, 2020

The confirmation battle surrounding the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is heating up. The Senate was set to vote on five more district court nominees this week before turning its attention to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. However, after an outbreak of coronavirus, which included three Senate Republicans, the Senate went into a recess until October 19.

Despite the Senate going into recess until October 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to advance Judge Barrett’s nomination. The Committee has noticed hearings next week from October 12 – 15 to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination, pose questions to the nominee, and hear from witnesses. This accelerated timeline still puts Judge Barrett on track to be confirmed before Election Day.

As of October 8, there are 61 Article III vacancies, 59 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 36 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 4 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 22 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

 

September 25, 2020

The Senate remained focused on leaving no judicial vacancy behind this week, in the face of the ongoing pandemic and economic unrest. This week the Senate confirmed two district court nominees: John Hinderaker (D. Ariz.) in a 70-27 vote; and Roderick Young (E.D. Va.) in a 93-2 vote. These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed under this administration to 218, which represents one-fourth of all active Article III judgeships.

As of September 24, there are 60 Article III vacancies, 59 of which are current. There are 34 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 4 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 20 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

In other judiciary news, ACS continues to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was an icon and a trailblazer, who spent her life dedicated to the fight for gender equality. Despite Justice Ginsburg passing away only a week ago, the President and Senate Republicans have made their intentions clear about trying to fill the seat before the upcoming presidential election. The President is expected to nominate someone this weekend. This rushed process has angered Senate Democrats and a majority of this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting was spent debating this vacancy. This process will likely remain rushed as reports indicate Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for the unnamed nominee could begin as soon as Oct. 12.

 

September 18. 2020

With less than fifty days until the presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate remained focused on leaving no judicial vacancy behind. This week the Senate confirmed eight district court nominees: Franklin Valderrama (N.D. Ill.) in a 68-26 vote; Iain Johnston (N.D. Ill.) in a 77-14 vote; Stephen McGlynn (S.D. Ill.) in a 55-41 vote; David Dugan (S.D. Ill.) in a 55-41 vote; Todd Robinson (S.D. Cal.) in a 86-10 vote; John Holcomb (C.D. Cal.) in a 83-12 vote; Stanley Blumenfeld (C.D. Cal.) in a 92-4 vote; and Mark Scarsi (C.D. Cal.) in a 83-12 vote. The confirmations of Dugan and McGlynn were notable because of the pushback Senator Durbin’s judicial selection commission received during the nominations process.

These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed under this administration to 216, which represents nearly one-fourth of all active Article III judgeships. A milestone that could be reached as early as next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also advanced five district court nominees out of Committee this week, setting up potential floor votes in the near future. The five nominees are J. Philip Calabrese (N.D. Ohio), Aileen Cannon (S.D. Fla.), Toby Crouse (D. Kan.), James Knepp II (N.D. Ohio), and Michael Newman (S.D. Ohio.).

As of September 17, there are 61 Article III vacancies, 60 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 36 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 4 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 20 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

 

September 10, 2020

The Senate returned from recess this week and immediately turned its attention back to confirming new judges. The Senate confirmed five district court nominees this week: Brett Ludwig (E.D. Wis.) in a 91-5 vote; Christy Wiegand (W.D. Pa.) in a 82-14 vote; Hala Jarbou (W.D. Mich.) in a 83-15 vote; Thomas Cullen (W.D. Va.) in a 79-19 vote; and Diane Gujarati (E.D.N.Y.) in a 99-0 vote. These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed during this administration to 208.

Also this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for four district court nominees: Benjamin Beaton (W.D. Ky.), Kristi Johnson (S.D. Miss.), Taylor McNeel (S.D. Miss.), and Kathryn Mizelle (M.D. Fla.). Most of the hearing was spent on the American Bar Association’s substantial majority “Not Qualified” rating for Mizelle, who has only practiced for 8 years. Mizelle is the tenth nominee during this administration to receive a “Not Qualified” rating from the ABA.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on eight district court nominees Thursday, setting up potential confirmation votes early next week. The eight nominees are: Franklin Valderrama (N.D. Ill.); Iain Johnston (N.D. Ill.); Stephen McGlynn (S.D. Ill.); David Dugan (S.D. Ill.); Todd Robinson (S.D. Cal.); John Holcomb (C.D. Cal.); Stanley Blumenfeld (C.D. Cal.); and Mark Scarsi (C.D. Cal.).

As of September 10, there are 68 Article III vacancies, 67 of which are current. There are 42 pending nominees: 15 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 18 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

In other judiciary news, the president announced his new list of potential Supreme Court nominees. The 20 new names are meant to supplement his original lists of potential Supreme Court nominees. For more on the president’s new list, be sure to check out Russ Feingold’s statement calling for fair-minded Supreme Court Justices.

 

August 20, 2020

Most of the Senate remained on recess this week, although the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs is set to return this Friday for a hearing with the Postmaster General. As of Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee has still not scheduled any hearings or executive business meetings for the rest of the month.

As of August 20, there are 73 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 47 pending nominees: 20 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 22 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

On the Bench will return when the full Senate is back from recess and judicial nominations activity resumes.

August 13, 2020

The Senate has nominally been in session this week, but with a deal on coronavirus legislation seeming improbable, the Senate will likely go on its scheduled August recess. As of Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee has still not scheduled any hearings or executive business meetings for the rest of the month.

Despite the election being 82 days away, the administration is still pushing to confirm new judges. On Wednesday, the administration announced its intent to nominate five new district court judges: Kathryn Mizelle (M.D. Fla.); Benjamin Beaton (W.D. Ky.); Hector Gonzalez (E.D.N.Y.); Ryan McAllister (N.D.N.Y.); and David Woll Jr. (E.D.N.Y.).

As of August 13, there are 73 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 47 pending nominees: 20 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 22 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

August 6, 2020

The Senate continued to negotiate over a coronavirus bill this week before its scheduled recess, which would keep the Senate out of session until after Labor Day. However, due to a lack of a deal on a coronavirus bill, the Senate may forgo its August recess and remain in session until one is reached. It remains unclear what would happen with judicial nominations should the Senate forgo its August recess.

As of late Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee has not scheduled any hearings or executive business meetings for the rest of the month, although this could change if the Senate decides to work through the month of August. With under 90 days until Election Day, the Senate continues to confirm and advance judicial nominations and working through August could continue that trend.

The Senate confirmed John Cronan (S.D.N.Y.) in a 55-42 vote this week. Cronan is the 203rd Article III judge confirmed during this administration. As the Senate continues to confirm nominees, the federal judiciary inches closer to having one-fourth of all active Article III judges having been confirmed during this administration.

As of August 6, there are 73 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. There are 42 pending nominees: 20 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 17 waiting for hearings before the Committee.

In other judiciary news, Judge Esther Salas (D.N.J.) released a compelling statement calling for more security and privacy for federal judges. Judge Salas recently experienced a horrific tragedy when a gunman showed up to her house and shot her husband and son.

July 31, 2020

The Senate continued to confirm and advance numerous judicial nominees this week despite the death toll from coronavirus passing 150,000 in this country and the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits on July 31. Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed two district court nominees: David Joseph (W.D. La.) in a 55-42 vote and William Hardy (W.D. Pa.) in a 65-30 vote.

These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed under this administration to 202. The confirmations also continue the trend of the lack of diversity in the president’s judicial nominations. Of the 202 confirmations, 154 have been men and 173 have been white. For more on the lack of diversity on the federal bench be sure to check out ACS’s Diversity of the Federal Bench page.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a hearing and executive business meeting for several district court nominees this week. The brief hearing was for five district court nominees: J. Philip Calabrese (N.D. Ohio), Aileen Cannon (S.D. Fla.), Toby Crouse (D. Kan.), James Knepp II (N.D. Ohio), and Michael Newman (S.D. Ohio). The five nominees are now eligible for a committee vote after facing questions from only five of the 22 Senators on the Committee. The Committee also favorably voted the following out of committee: David Dugan (S.D. Ill.); Hala Jarbou (W.D. Mich.); Iain Johnston (N.D. Ill.); Stephen McGlynn (S.D. Ill.); Franklin Valderrama (N.D. Ill.); and Roderick Young (E.D. Va.), setting up potential confirmation votes.

As of July 30, there are 74 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. There are 43 pending nominees: 21 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 17 waiting for hearings before the Committee

July 23, 2020

The Senate returned from recess this week and continued to advance judicial nominees despite uncertainty about the next coronavirus relief bill and the looming expiration of emergency unemployment benefits. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting where it advanced five district court nominees to the floor: John Holcomb (C.D. Cal.); Brett Ludwig (E.D. Wis.); Shireen Matthews (S.D. Cal.); Todd Robinson (S.D. Cal.); and Christy Wiegand (W.D. Pa.).

Only Wiegand (W.D. Pa.) received a recorded vote as the other four district court nominees were advanced by a voice vote. Wiegand also had bipartisan support and was favorably voted out of committee in a 17-5 vote. During the executive business meeting, the Committee also held over six district court nominees setting up potential committee votes as early as next week: David Dugan (S.D. Ill.); Hala Jarbou (W.D. Mich.); Iain Johnston (N.D. Ill.); Stephen McGlynn (S.D. Ill.); Franklin Valderrama (N.D. Ill.); and Roderick Young (E.D. Va.).

The Committee also noticed a hearing for Wednesday, July 29. As of July 23, the list of the nominees who will appear at the hearing is not public.

As of July 23, there are 76 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. There are 45 pending nominees: 17 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 22 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

July 17, 2020

There was no judicial nominations news this week as the Senate remains on recess until July 20. As of right now, the Senate Judiciary Committee has not noticed any judicial nominations specific hearings for next week. On the Bench will return as judicial nominations activity resumes.

As always, we encourage you to write and speak up about judicial nominations. Please email us at LCEmails@acslaw.org if you’d like content or placement advice. For more information on judicial nominations, be sure to check out judicialnominations.org

 

July 10, 2020

On Thursday, the Supreme Court released the final opinions of the term, including the two cases involving the president’s tax returns. As of midday Thursday, there has not been a retirement announced by any member of the Court.

Over the past few weeks, ACS has published a series of blogs recapping the major decisions from this term. These blogs cover a variety of topics including: abortion; religious schools; Title VII; the CFPB; and DACA. For more on the end of the term be sure to attend ACS’s Supreme Court Review. More information on the event will be made available in the coming weeks.

There was no judicial nominations activity this week as the Senate remains on recess until July 20. The expectation is that the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee will quickly turn its attend back to judicial nominations, but a hearing and/or markup hasn’t been officially noticed yet.

As of July 9, there are 76 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. There are 45 pending nominees: 12 waiting for floor votes, 11 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 22 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

July 3, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week entitled “The Judicial Conference’s Recommendation for More Judgeships.” The hearing focused on a 2019 proposal from the Judicial Conference of the United States, which recommended the creation of 70 new Article III judgeships in the courts of appeals and district courts, including adding five permanent seats to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The hearing focused primarily on the high caseload current judges face as the justification for more judgeships. While there isn’t proposed legislation, the creation of new judgeships appeared to have bipartisan support from the few members of the Committee that were in attendance. As Bloomberg Law noted, one idea floated by the senators is to delay the creation of the new judgeships until “after the next presidential election so both sides have a shot at making them.” In an effort to streamline this process, Chairman Graham suggested that the Judicial Conference’s recommendations “be added to the next coronavirus relief package to move through Congress.”

On Thursday, the Committee held an executive business meeting where it held over five district court nominees: John Holcomb (C.D. Cal.); Brett Ludwig (E.D. Wis.); Shireen Matthews (S.D. Cal.); Todd Robinson (S.D. Cal.); and Christy Wiegand (W.D. Pa.). These five district court nominees are now eligible for a full committee vote, which will likely occur when the Senate returns from recess in a couple weeks.

As of July 2, there are 76 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 12 waiting for floor votes, 11 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 22 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

June 26, 2020

The Senate hit a judicial milestone this week when it confirmed Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a 52-48 vote. Wilson became the 200th Article III judge confirmed during this administration. In addition to being nearly a quarter of all the Article III judgeships, 200 judges confirmed by this point in his presidency has President Trump outpacing his three previous predecessors. Only President Carter had more confirmed judges at this point during his first term, with 239.

Cory Wilson became the 53rd new circuit court judge appointed during this administration. The makeup of the circuit courts has drastically changed since President Obama left office in January 2017. For more on the makeup of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, be sure to check out ACS’s Circuit Court Composition page.

Another trend in these 200 confirmations is the stunning lack of diversity. Zero of the 53 new circuit court judges are Black, putting President Trump on track to be the first president since President Nixon to go a full term without selecting a Black nominee for a circuit court seat. The lack of diversity goes beyond just the new circuit court judges. Of the 200 confirmations, 152 (76%) were men, 171 (85.5%) were white, and 131 (65.5%) were white men. For more on the diversity of active Article III judges, be sure to check out ACS’s Diversity of the Federal Bench page.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for six district court nominees: David Dugan (S.D. Ill.); Hala Jarbou (W.D. Mich.); Iain Johnston (N.D. Ill.); Stephen McGlynn (S.D. Ill.); Franklin Valderrama (N.D. Ill.); and Roderick Young (E.D. Va.). The six nominees are now eligible for a committee vote.

Also this week, the Committee noticed a hearing entitled “The Judicial Conference’s Recommendation for More Judgeships” for June 30. So far little is known about the hearing. In 2017, the Judicial Conference of the United States recommended the creation of 57 new Article III judgeships in the courts of appeals and district courts. The proposal includes adding five permanent seats to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

As of June 25, there are 76 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 12 waiting for floor votes, 11 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 22 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

June 19, 2020

Before turning to police reform legislation next week, the Senate continued to advance and confirm judicial nominees. On Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a 51-42 vote. Judge Walker is the 52nd circuit court nominee and the 199th Article III judge confirmed during this administration.

The D.C. Circuit is considered by many to be the country’s second highest court. The 37-year-old Judge Walker will now have a lifetime seat on this court, a seat which doesn’t come open until September 1. Judge Walker continues the trend of young conservative judicial appointees by this administration.

For more on the make up of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, be sure to check out ACS’s Circuit Court Composition page.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for five district court nominees: John Holcomb (C.D. Cal.); Brett Ludwig (E.D. Wis.); Shireen Matthews (S.D. Cal.); Todd Robinson (S.D. Cal.); and Christy Wiegand (W.D. Pa.). This hearing was originally scheduled for last Wednesday but was postponed due to technical difficulties. The five nominees are now eligible for a committee vote.

Also this week, the White House officially nominated three district court nominees. The nominees are James Arguelles (E.D. Cal.), Fred Federici III (D.N.M.), and Brenda Siaz (D.N.M.).

As of June 18, there are 77 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 46 pending nominees: 13 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 28 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Related: View ACS’s Diversity of the Federal Courts page.

 

June 12, 2020

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, an economic downturn, and continued protest over racial injustice, the Senate continued to advance judicial nominees. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to hold a hearing for five district court nominees. However, due to technical difficulties, the Committee had to reschedule the hearing next Wednesday, June 17.

Also on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.), a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This will begin the process to set up a potential confirmation vote, likely as soon as next Monday, June 15. Judge Walker would be the 199th Article III judge confirmed during this administration.

On Thursday, the Committee held a lengthy and somewhat testy executive business meeting primarily focused on subpoenas related to the Russia investigation. At the end of the meeting, the Committee voted Cory Wilson, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, favorably out of committee on a partisan 12-10 vote.

As of June 11, there are 78 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 46 pending nominees: 14 waiting for floor votes, 0 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 32 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

June 5, 2020

In the midst of widespread protests condemning police violence and racism and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Senate continued to advance and confirm judicial nominees. The Senate confirmed two district court nominees this week: John Badalamenti (M.D. Fla.) in a 55-22 vote and Drew Tipton (S.D. Tex.) in a 52-41 vote. These confirmations bring the total number of Article III judges confirmed during this administration to 198. The Senate will likely surpass 200 Article III judges confirmed in the coming weeks.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting for two circuit court nominees. The Committee advanced Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.), who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to the floor on a party-line 12-10 vote. Judge Walker (W.D. Ky.) is now eligible for a confirmation vote for a seat that becomes vacant in September. During the executive business meeting, the Committee also held over Cory Wilson, who is nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, setting up a committee vote next Thursday.

As of June 5, there are 77 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 13 waiting for floor votes, 1 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 31 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

May 29, 2020

With the Senate on recess, there was no judicial nominations activity this week. Prior to the recess, the Senate took a cloture vote on a district court nominee setting up a confirmation vote for the day the chamber returns, June 1.

When the Senate returns in June, it won’t be long before it confirms the 200th Article III judge of this administration. One clear trend among these confirmations is the stunning lack of diversity. The federal judiciary should look like the people it represents, but during this administration, the race and gender gaps on the courts are only growing. A majority of the 196 Article III judges confirmed so far are white men.


ACS recently relaunched our Diversity of the Federal Bench page to track the racial and gender diversity of all active Article III judges in real time. The page offers several different ways to examine the data, including overall diversity statistics and administration-specific diversity. Overall; 73% of Article III judges are white and 66% are male; during this administration those numbers jump to 85% white and 75% male.

As of May 28, there are 79 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 14 waiting for floor votes, 2 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

May 22, 2020

Despite taking no action regarding the ongoing pandemic, the Senate had a busy week in the judicial nominations space. The Senate confirmed three Article III judges and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and an executive business meeting.

Throughout the week the Senate confirmed three district court nominees: Scott Rash (D. Ariz) in a 74-20 vote; Anna Manasco (N.D. Ala.) in a 71-21 vote; and John Heil (E.D., N.D., W.D. Okla.) in a 75-17 vote. These were the first Article III confirmations since late February and bring the total number of Article III confirmations during this administration to 196.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Cory Wilson, who is being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wilson was previously nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, but when the prior Fifth Circuit nominee, Judge Halil Ozerden (S.D. Miss.), was opposed by several conservative members of the Committee, Judge Ozerden was replaced with Wilson. During his hearing, Wilson faced a series of questions that covered the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and his prior writings, as well as a wide array of other topics.

The Committee also held an executive business meeting this week. During the meeting, the Committee held over the nomination of Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.), who is being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Walker will likely receive a committee vote after the Senate’s recess on June 4.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham also made news this week by confirming that the Senate would “proceed with confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court nominee if a vacancy opens this year.” Chairman Graham claimed this was a different situation from when then President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court because now the Senate and White House are controlled by the same party.

As of May 21, there are 79 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 14 waiting for floor votes, 2 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

May 15, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee continued to advance judicial nominations during the ongoing pandemic this week. The Committee held an executive business meeting on Wednesday and favorably advanced six district court nominees to the floor: William Hardy (W.D. Pa.), David Joseph (W.D. La.), Drew Tipton (S.D. Tex.), John Cronan (S.D.N.Y.), Thomas Cullen (W.D. Va.), and Jennifer Togliatti (D. Nev.).

The Committee also scheduled a hearing for next week on Wednesday, May 20. As of right now, the Committee has not listed the nominee(s) who will be present at the hearing.

As of May 14, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 77 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 47 pending nominees: 17 waiting for floor votes, 2 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 28 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

May 8, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee quickly turned its attention back to confirming judges after the body returned from recess this week. The Committee held a hearing for Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) on Wednesday, one of two potential circuit court judges officially nominated on Monday.

Judge Walker is being elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a vacancy which comes open in September. The president also officially nominated Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Four district court nominees were also announced: Iris Lan (S.D.N.Y.), Saritha Komatireddy (E.D.N.Y.), Jennifer Rearden (S.D.N.Y.), and Kristi Johnson (S.D. Miss.).

Nineteen of the Committee’s 22 senators attended Judge Walker’s hearing—six of them virtually, due to the coronavirus. Their questions covered the Affordable Care Act, injunctions, and executive power, as well as a wide array of other topics.

Several senators also discussed the ABA’s new rating for Judge Walker. Prior to his confirmation to the district court, the ABA rated Judge Walker as “not qualified.” The ABA based their rating primarily on Judge Walker’s lack of experience, noting that he “has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal.” For his nomination to the D.C. Circuit, a majority of the ABA committee rated Judge Walker “well qualified.” A minority of the committee rated him simply “qualified” while another small group rated him “not qualified” a second time.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also scheduled an executive business meeting to consider six district court nominees this week, but ultimately postponed. The Committee rescheduled the meeting for next Thursday, May 14.

As of May 7, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 77 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 46 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 8 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

May 1, 2020

The Senate is set to return from recess on Monday, May 4 and the Senate Judiciary Committee is wasting no time in turning its attention back to advancing judicial nominees. The Committee noticed a hearing for May 6 on Wednesday night. While the Committee has not listed the nominee(s) who will appear for their hearing, the expectation is that Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) will be at the hearing. Recently, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Judge Walker to the future vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which comes open September 1, 2020.

The 38 year-old Judge Walker has served on the federal bench less than six months, having been confirmed to the district court in October 2019 in a 50-41 vote. Prior to his confirmation, the ABA rated Judge Walker as “not qualified.” The ABA based their rating primarily on Judge Walker’s lack of experience, noting that he “has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal.”

RELATED: View our interactive map on the district and circuit courts.

As of April 30, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 76 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 45 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

April 24, 2020

The Senate is still expected to return from recess on May 4. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly expressed his interest in confirming judges as soon as the Senate returns. There has also been some talk on the right about whether judges, including Supreme Court Justices, could signal their intent to retire but have that be contingent on whether a suitable Republican-appointed replacement is confirmed.

There are 75 current Article III vacancies, including one vacancy for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. There are also 7 future vacancies including one for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which the president has already expressed his intent to elevate Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) to fill that vacancy. With the general election a little over six months away, it is likely that Senator McConnell will rush to fill as many of these vacancies as possible. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to set any hearings per the Committee’s online calendar, however that could change in the coming days.

As of April 23, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 43 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

April 17, 2020

The Senate will remain in recess until at least May 4, according to a recent Politico article. Congress hoped to return from recess on April 20, but due to the ongoing pandemic, the recess needed to be extended. With the Senate in recess, no judicial nominations are advancing in the confirmation process. By the time the Senate returns, it will have been over two months since the last confirmation of an Article III judge.

The lack of confirmations is frustrating the president, who “cited a never-exercised constitutional power to shut down Congress if the House and Senate are in disagreement over adjourning.” He argued that he could then make recess appointments. Currently, the House and Senate are holding pro forma sessions every few days and therefore never formally adjourning. During these sessions, nominees are not being voted on. Many people, including ACS Board of Academic Advisors member Steve Vladeck, argue that President Trump is misreading the Constitution.

Over the weekend, Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) issued a temporary restraining order that blocked Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer “from forbidding drive-in church serves on Easter to slow the spread of coronavirus.” The TRO was notable for the language used by Judge Walker, which some argued that it lacked “modesty and proper judicial temperament.” The president announced his intent to elevate Judge Walker to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit earlier this month.

As of April 16, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 43 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

April 10, 2020

The Senate remained in recess this week, so there was no official judicial nominations activity. Late last week the president announced his intent to elevate Judge Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Walker would replace Judge Thomas Griffith, who is set to retire in September.

The 38 year-old Judge Walker has served on the federal bench less than six months, having been confirmed to the district court in October 2019 in a 50-41 vote. Prior to his confirmation, the ABA rated Judge Walker as “not qualified.” The ABA based their rating primarily on Judge Walker’s lack of experience, noting that he “has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal.”

As of April 9, there are 81 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 43 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

April 3, 2020

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the White House announced President Trump’s intent to nominate two people to the federal bench, including Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Wilson had previously been nominated by President Trump to a district court seat in Mississippi and even had his hearing this year. It remains to be seen if Wilson will have another hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

With President Trump’s announcement of his intent to nominate Wilson to the Fifth Circuit, it likely spells the end of Judge Halil Ozerden’s (S.D. Miss.) nomination to the same seat. Judge Ozerden was nominated by the president last summer, but never advanced beyond his hearing. During his July hearing, Judge Ozerden was asked a series of questions about his commitment to conservative causes by Senator Ted Cruz, who has come out publicly against Judge Ozerden for not being sufficiently conservative. In addition to Senator Cruz, Senator Josh Hawley announced his opposition of Judge Ozerden meaning Judge Ozerden likely did not have enough votes to advance out of committee. With his nomination to the Fifth Circuit almost certainly over, Judge Ozerden will remain on the bench in Mississippi. For more on the composition of the circuit courts, be sure to check out ACS’s circuit court composition document here.

 

As of April 2, there are 81 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 42 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. 

 

March 27, 2020

The Senate remained focused on its coronavirus response this week and late Thursday night passed a $2 trillion stimulus package sending the bill over to the House of Representatives for final passage. Reports indicate that the Senate is set to go on recess until April 20. This means it will be nearly another month before the Senate can continue moving judicial nominations forward. 

 

In addition to the U.S. Courts’s website and Fix the Court’s Google Doc, Bloomberg Law has created an interactive map where they will be tracking the latest updates on the coronavirus and the circuit courts. The Marshall Project has also created an interactive map that will be tracking the latest updates on coronavirus and state court closings. 

 

As of March 26, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 42 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 8 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 23 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. 

 

March 20, 2020

The Senate returned from recess early to deal with the ongoing coronavirus crisis. With the Senate’s focus was on passing the coronavirus bill from the House, there was no judicial nominations activity this week. When the Senate inevitably returns to confirming more judicial nominees, On the Bench will continue to track that information.

Like the rest of the country, the federal judiciary is figuring out how to deal with the coronavirus, including what to do about pending cases. For the first time since 1918, the Supreme Court postponed oral arguments that were scheduled for this month. Including in this postponement was the oral argument on the ongoing battle for President Trump’s tax returns and financial records. The lower courts are also figuring out how to deal with coronavirus. The U.S. Courts’s website is updating twice a day to list the latest information from all the circuit courts and district courts on what their procedure is for dealing with the coronavirus. Fix the Court has also created a handy Google Doc for tracking the latest information from the circuit courts.

As of March 19, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 42 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 8 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 23 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

View our 50-state interactive map now with demographic data on all active Article III judges!

 

March 13, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting this week where they were expected to vote on up to six district court nominees. However, amid attendance issues and growing concerns over the coronavirus the Committee only ended up voting on three district court nominees. John Heil (N.E.W. Okla.), John Badalamenti (M.D. Fla.), and Anna Manasco (N.D. Ala.) were all reported out of committee favorably to the floor.

 

The Senate is set to go on recess next week.

 

As of March 12, there are 82 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 42 pending nominees: 11 waiting for floor votes, 8 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 23 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. 

 

March 6, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for three district court nominees this week. The Committee also advanced four district court nominees out of committee setting up potential floor votes. The nominees were Stanley Blumenfeld (C.D. Cal.), Mark Scarsi (C.D. Cal.), Fernando Aenlle-Rocha (C.D. Cal.), & John Hinderaker (D. Ariz.).

Judge Thomas Griffith (D.C. Cir.) is set to retire later this year. Judge Griffith’s retirement will create a second current or known future vacancy on the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. To see the current composition of the circuit courts visit ACS’ circuit court composition document here.

As of March 5, there are 81 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 41 pending nominees: 8 waiting for floor votes, 11 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 22 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

February 28, 2020

The Senate confirmed one lifetime judge to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico this week. Silvia Carreno-Coll was confirmed in a 96-0 vote, becoming the 193rd Article III judge confirmed during this administration.

In just over three years, the Senate has confirmed 51 circuit court judges appointed by the Trump administration, the effects of which are starting to be felt. President Trump has already appointed 10 judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is slightly over one-third of all Ninth Circuit judges. For comparison, President Obama only appointed seven judges to the Ninth Circuit over his eight years in office. While the circuit still has a majority of judges appointed by Democratic presidents, the circuit is close to flipping. In a recent article, Judge Milan Smith Jr., a President George W. Bush appointee, said “Trump has effectively flipped the circuit.” He was not the only one to notice changes on the circuit as an unnamed Ninth Circuit judge said, “Ten new people at once sends a shock wave through the system.”

As of February 27, there are 80 Article III vacancies, 72 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 41 pending nominees: 4 waiting for floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

February 21, 2020

The Senate was on recess this week so there were no floor votes or Senate Judiciary Committee meetings. Once the recess is over, the Senate is expected to continue confirming judges.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing entitled Protecting Federal Judiciary Employees from Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Other Workplace Misconduct. In the wake of the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia (D. Kan.) resigned “amid renewed attention to sex[ual] harassment allegations.” Judge Murguia was reprimanded late last year by the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit after it “found he made sexually suggestive comments to female court employees.” However, the Judicial Council did not have the power to remove a sitting judge, so Judge Murguia remained on the bench until he decided to resign this week after the compelling hearing.

On Thursday, over 70 former clerks of the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt (9th Cir.) released an open letter in support of “a fellow former clerk who told a congressional committee that he sexually harassed her.” The letter called for “bold steps” to prevent harassment and improve reporting for harassment claims.

As of February 20, there are 81 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 38 pending nominees: 5 waiting for floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 21 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. For more on the current state of judicial nominations visit www.judicialnominations.org.

 

February 14, 2020 

With impeachment behind them, Senate Republicans continued to confirm judges this week. The Senate confirmed five lifetime judges, including one nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.), who is 38 years old and was only recently confirmed to the federal bench, was elevated to the Eleventh Circuit in a 52-43 vote. This confirmation is the 51st circuit court confirmation during this administration, leaving only one vacancy on the circuit courts.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a hearing this week for three lifetime nominees. The nominees breezed through a relatively short and lightly attended hearing and now are in line for a Committee vote in the coming weeks. In other judiciary news this week, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing entitled Protecting Federal Judiciary Employees from Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Other Workplace Misconduct. The hearing included compelling testimony from several witnesses. To watch click here.

As of February 13, there are 80 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 38 pending nominees: 5 waiting for floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 21 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. For more on the current state of judicial nominations visit www.judicialnominations.org.

 

February 7, 2020

The impeachment trial of President Trump came to an end this week, with the Senate voting to acquit on both articles. Without missing a beat, the Senate immediately turned its attention back to judicial nominations. Within an hour of the acquittal, Senator McConnell had already begun to file cloture on lifetime nominees.

 

Senator McConnell filed cloture on five lifetime nominees, including on Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.). Judge Brasher is 38 years old and was only recently confirmed to the federal bench this past May. Judge Brasher is being nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

 

As of February 6, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 75 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 42 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 23 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. For more on the current state of judicial nominations visit www.judicialnominations.org

January 31, 2020

With the impeachment trial of President Trump taking up all the Senate’s time and attention this week, there was no judicial nominations activity. Even with this brief pause in confirmations, the pace at which the Senate has confirmed lifetime judges remains accelerated. To date, the Senate has confirmed 187 lifetime judges. This is just over one-fifth of all Article III judges.

 

Once the impeachment trial is over, it is likely that the Senate will quickly shift back to confirming more judges. Currently, there are 10 nominees waiting for a floor vote, including Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

 

As of January 30, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 74 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 38 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 19 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. For more on the current state of judicial nominations visit www.judicialnominations.org.

 

January 24, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee had no official judicial nominations activity this week. At the end of last week’s Committee meeting, Chairman Graham announced there would not be a Committee meeting until after the impeachment trial had concluded. It remains unclear if the full Senate will vote on nominees during the impeachment trial, though through the first few days of the trial the Senate has focused solely on impeachment.

Chairman Graham’s announcement came after Senator Harris and four of her Democratic colleagues argued that the Committee should not advance any judicial nominees while the impeachment trial was pending. Senator Harris, who was the first senator to publicly take this stance, praised the move to halt judicial nominations during the trail. In addition to Senator Harris, a collation of national civil rights organizations, including ACS, sent a letter to Senators McConnell and Graham requesting that judicial nominations be put on hold during the impeachment into the record.

As of January 23, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 38 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 19 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

January 17, 2020

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting this week where five lifetime nominees were voted out of committee, setting up a potential floor vote. One of these nominees was 38 year-old Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.), who was only confirmed to the federal bench this past May. Judge Brasher is being nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Before voting on the nominees, there was a lot of discussion amongst the senators about voting on judicial nominees while the impeachment trial was ongoing. Senator Harris kicked this discussion off by reiterating her position that the Committee should not advance any more judicial nominees while the impeachment trial was pending. Four of her Democratic colleagues joined her in this sentiment and gave similar statements. Senator Hirono entered a letter to Senators McConnell and Graham requesting that judicial nominations be put on hold during the impeachment into the record. The letter was signed by a coalition of national civil rights organizations, including ACS. After voting to advance the five nominees, Senator Graham closed the meeting by declaring the Committee’s work on judicial nominations would cease until the impeachment trial is over.

As of January 16, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 38 pending nominees: 10 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 19 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

January 10, 2020

Even with impeachment looming, the Senate Judiciary Committee continued to advance judicial nominations. This week the Committee held a hearing for five judicial nominees, including four district court nominees. The Committee also held an executive business meeting this week where it held over six lifetime nominees setting up a potential committee vote for next week. One of these nominees was 38 year-old Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.), who was only confirmed to the federal bench this past May. Judge Brasher is being nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

In light of the Senate Judiciary Committee continuing to advance judicial nominees even after the House of Representatives impeached President Trump, ACS joined a coalition of national civil rights organizations on a letter to Senators McConnell and Graham requesting that judicial nominations be put on hold during the impeachment. The letter argues that while the president is under the cloud of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors that “it would be a grave mistake for the Senate to allow the president to continue making lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary. Such appointments are nearly irrevocable; federal judges serve for life and can be removed only through their own impeachment.”

As of January 9, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 73 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 37 pending nominees: 5 waiting for floor votes, 14 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

December 20, 2019

Judicial Nominations: A Year in Review

The Senate confirmed 13 district court nominees this week, including former ACS chapter leader Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the Eastern District of Michigan. This brings the total number of confirmed lifetime judges during this administration to 187.

With 2019 ending, it is important to take stock of the historic overhaul of the federal judiciary. In 2019, the Senate confirmed 102 lifetime judges, 20 of whom were to the circuit courts. This is an incredibly rapid pace and means that 1 lifetime judge was confirmed every 4 days.

View our interactive map of the circuit and districts courts

These confirmations illustrate two larger trends in judicial nominations under this administration: an increase in ABA “not qualified” ratings and a failure to value diversity on the federal bench.

As of December 20, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 70 of which are current. Once the two intent to nominate nominees are officially nominated there will be 35 pending nominees: 5 waiting for floor votes, 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 20 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

The Senate is scheduled to recess for the holidays. On the Bench will return when the Senate does. Please continue to speak out in your community about the importance of the courts and let ACS know if you need any resources.

Visit more ACS resources on judicial nominations.

 

December 13, 2019

The Senate confirmed two circuit court nominees this week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: Patrick Bumatay in a 53-40 vote and Lawrence VanDyke in a 51-44 vote. These confirmations bring the total number of confirmed lifetime judges during this administration to 174, representing one-fifth of all such judges at the federal level.

VanDyke was previously rated as “not qualified” by the ABA. The ABA wrote that, based on the assessments of interviewees, “Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” The Trump administration has nominated nine people who received a “not qualified” rating in less than three years. President Obama nominated zero people who received a “not qualified” rating from the ABA and President George W. Bush nominated eight in the entirety of his eight years in office.

The sixth Democratic presidential debate is next week in Los Angeles. It is imperative that the moderators ask about the courts in light of all the recent confirmations.

Read our In Brief blog on this topic .

 

December 6, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed eight district court nominees, which brings the total number of lifetime judges confirmed during the Trump administration to 172. This is just two confirmations shy from being one-fifth of all Article III judges. One of the judges confirmed this week was Sarah Pitlyk (E.D. Mo.) by a vote of 49-44. Previously, the ABA unanimously rated Pitlyk as “not qualified” citing her lack of experience including never trying a case, examining a witness, or taking a deposition. In addition to the “not qualified” rating, Pitlyk has an extreme record on reproductive rights and even opposes IVF leading Senator Duckworth to write a Dear Colleague letter urging senators to oppose Pitlyk’s nomination.

Also, this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for one circuit court nominee and five district court nominees. The circuit court nominee is the thirty-eight year old Judge Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.), who was only confirmed to the federal bench this past May. With a potential impeachment trial looming, the Senate continues to advance and confirm judges at a rapid pace.

As of December 5, there are 99 Article III vacancies, 82 of which are current. There are 48 pending nominees: 20 waiting for floor votes, 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Visit more ACS resources on judicial nominations.

 

November 22, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed Barbara Lagoa (11th Cir.) by a vote of 80-15 and Robert Luck (11th Cir.) by a vote of 64-31. A majority of circuit courts now have a majority of Republican-appointed judges. The Senate Judiciary Committee also voted out seven nominees, including Lawrence VanDyke (9th Cir.) and Patrick Bumatay (9th Cir.).

The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 29th that Mr. VanDyke was regarded as “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice, including procedural rules.” Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson also wrote numerous articles opposing VanDyke’s nomination. Both Bumatay and VanDyke lack the support of home-state senators.

In addition, cloture has been filed on eight district court nominees, including Sarah Pitlyk (E.D. Mo.), for consideration the week of December 2nd.

 

 

November 15, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed Steven Menashi (2d Cir.) in a 51-41 vote. Menashi has a troubling record of writings on reproductive rights, LGBTQ issues, education, immigration, and diversity in general. With the confirmation of Menashi the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has switched from a majority of judges being appointed by Democratic presidents to a majority of judges being appointed by Republican presidents.

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for three lifetime judgeships including two nominees to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Committee also held an executive business meeting for five judicial nominees, including two nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, setting up a potential Committee vote as early as next week. One of these nominees was Lawrence VanDyke (9th Cir.) whom a substantial majority of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated as “not qualified.”

As of November 14, there are 108 Article III vacancies, 90 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 57 pending nominees: 25 waiting for floor votes, 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 23 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

November 8, 2019

This week the Senate voted to confirm four judicial nominees: Danielle Hunsaker (9th Cir.) in a 73-17 vote; William Nardini (2d Cir.) in a 86-2 vote; Lee Rudofsky (E.D. Ark.) in a 51-41 vote; and Jennifer Wilson (M.D. Pa.) in a 88-3 vote. With the confirmation of Hunsaker and Nardini the Trump administration has now appointed one-fourth of all circuit court judges. For more on this milestone see ACS’ statement here.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting for seven nominees. The Committee held Halil Ozerden (5th Cir.) over again at the request of the White House. The remaining six nominees, which included three circuit court judges, were all favorably advanced to the floor. One of the nominees who advanced to the floor was Steven Menashi (2d Cir.), who has a troubling record of writings on reproductive rights, LGBTQ issues, education, immigration, and diversity in general. Menashi advanced on a partisan 12-10 vote that took place after nearly every Senator in attendance spoke on his nomination.

As of November 7, there are 109 Article III vacancies, 90 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 58 pending nominees: 26 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 26 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Visit more ACS resources on judicial nominations.

November 1, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee this week held an executive business meeting with 11 nominees. Seven of these nominees were held over, including Halil Ozerden (5th Cir.) and Steven Menashi (2d Cir.), marking the second time they have been held over. The remaining four nominees were advanced to the floor, including Sarah Pitlyk (E.D. Mo.) whom the ABA unanimously rated as “not qualified.”

The Committee also held a hearing this week for five nominees, including two nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On the night prior to the hearing, the ABA released its rating for Lawrence VanDyke (9th Cir.). A substantial majority of the ABA committee rated VanDyke as “not qualified,” based on reports from peers that the nominee was “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules.” For a more detailed explanation of its rating see the ABA’s letter. VanDyke became the ninth nominee during this administration to receive a “not qualified” rating from the ABA committee.

Related: View our frequently updated infographic for details on circuit court sitting judges, vacancies, and pending nominees: U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals Composition.

As of October 31, there are 111 Article III vacancies, 94 of which are current. Once the remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 55 pending nominees: 24 waiting for floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 19 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Visit more ACS resources on judicial nominations.

October 25, 2019

This week Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell skipped Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) to the front of the Senate calendar to accelerate his nomination. Despite the ABA rating Justin Walker as not qualified, the Senate voted to confirm him in a 50-41 vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced four nominees, including two nominees to the circuit courts to the Senate floor. If the two circuit court nominees are confirmed, then one-fourth of all circuit court judges will be President Trump appointees. This benchmark will be reached without the Senate confirming a single Black or Latinx nominee to the circuit courts. The Committee, in light of Representative Elijah Cummings’ funeral, held over an additional six nominees including: Steven Menashi (2d Cir.), Halil Ozerden (5th Cir.), and Sarah Pitlyk (E.D. Mo.).

View our interactive map to learn more about circuit and district court vacancies and pending nominees.

As of October 24, there are 111 Article III vacancies, 95 of which are current. Once remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 56 pending nominees: 21 waiting for floor votes, 11 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

October 18, 2019

Quickly after returning from recess, the Senate continued to confirm judicial nominees. This week the Senate voted to confirm four district court nominees: Rachel Kovner (E.D.N.Y.) in a 88-3 vote; David Novak (E.D. Va.) in a 89-3 vote; Charles Eskridge III (S.D. Tex.) in a 61-31 vote; and Frank Volk (S.D. W. Va.) in a 92-0 vote. With these four votes the Senate has now confirmed 156 lifetime judges nominated by this administration.

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee also continued to advance more judicial nominees. On Wednesday October 16 the Committee held a hearing for five nominees, including two nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Then on Thursday the Committee advanced five district court nominees to a vote on the Senate floor. These nominees included Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) who the ABA previously rated as not qualified. However, the Committee did not take their scheduled vote on Halil Ozerden, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, who continues to face opposition from two Republican members of the Committee. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of October 17, there are 110 Article III vacancies, 95 of which are current. Once remaining nominees are officially nominated, there will be 56 pending nominees: 17 waiting for floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

October 11, 2019

The Senate is set to return from its two-week recess next week on October 15. Prior to the recess Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on four district court nominees: Frank Volk (S.D. W. Va.), Charles Eskridge III (S.D. Tex.), David Novak (E.D. Va.), and Rachel Kovner (E.D.N.Y.). These nominees will likely be put up for a vote early next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is also expected to have a busy week. A hearing has been set for October 16 and the Committee is going to hold an executive business meeting on October 17. This executive business meeting will be the second markup for several nominees including Halil Ozerden, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, who has faced opposition from two Republican members of the Committee.

As of October 10, there are 113 Article III vacancies, 98 of which are current. Once remaining recess nominees are officially nominated, there will be 58 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

View our interactive map to learn more about circuit and district court vacancies and pending nominees.

October 4, 2019

While much of the national attention has been elsewhere during this two-week Senate recess, numerous nominations remain pending before the Chamber. As of October 3, the Senate has confirmed 152 lifetime judges to Article III courts. This represents over one-sixth of all Article III judgeships, of whom only a minority are from diverse backgrounds. Of the confirmed nominees, 86% have been white and 66% have been white men. In addition to the lack of diversity, the speed at which these nominees have been confirmed remains accelerated. All seven of the current and known future vacancies to the circuit courts have nominees and once two more are confirmed one-fourth of all circuit court judges will be President Trump’s appointees.

Every day, federal courts decide cases critical to our rights — from the environment to voting to immigration. In just the past week district court judges have ruled on Georgia’s abortion ban and Harvard’s admission policy. These cases exemplify the idea that courts matter. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of October 3, there are 110 Article III vacancies, 98 of which are current. Once remaining recess nominees are officially nominated, there will be 58 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings

The Senate will return from recess on October 15.

September 27

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to hold an executive business meeting for six judicial nominations potentially moving them to the Senate floor for a vote. These six nominees included Halil Ozerden, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. During his July hearing, Ozerden was asked a series of questions about his commitment to conservative causes by Senator Ted Cruz, who has come out publicly against Ozerden for not being sufficiently conservative. In addition to Senator Cruz, Senator Josh Hawley announced his opposition of Ozerden Thursday morning.

Earlier this week the Committee also held a hearing for five nominees: Danielle Hunsaker (9th Cir.), William Nardini (2d Cir.), Jodi Dishman (W.D. Okla.), Sarah Pitlyk (E.D. Mo.), and Daniel Traynor (D.N.D.). A large portion of the hearing focused on the ABA’s unanimous rating of Pitlyk as “not qualified.” The Democratic members of the Committee focused on her rating, pointing out that Pitlyk has never taken a deposition or cross-examined a witness. The Republican members expressed concerns with the ABA’s judicial rating system, even suggesting that the Committee abandon its use of ABA ratings altogether or else allow for other groups to fill the same role. Additionally, the Democratic senators expressed concerns over Pitlyk’s extensive anti-abortion views. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of September 26, there are 110 Article III vacancies, 97 of which are current. Once the 19 remaining recess nominees are officially nominated, there will be 55 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings

September 20

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting for six judicial nominees, including Halil Ozerden, a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. During his July hearing, Ozerden was asked a series of questions about his commitment to conservative causes by Senator Ted Cruz, who has come out publicly against Ozerden for not being sufficiently conservative. In this week’s first markup, all six nominees were held over by the Committee, setting up a potential vote at a second markup on September 26.

Next week the Committee is also set to hold a hearing on September 25. This hearing will likely include some of President Trump’s recess nominees and could include both circuit and district court nominees. The date of the first markup for Steven Menashi, President Trump’s nominee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who has a troubling record of writings on reproductive rights, LGBTQ issues, education, immigration, and diversity in general, remains to be announced. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of September 19, there are 110 Article III vacancies, 97 of which are current. Once the 17 remaining recess nominees are officially nominated there will be 52 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 26 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 13

This week the Senate confirmed six district court nominees: Stephanie Haines (W.D. Pa.) in a 94-0 vote; Ada Brown (N.D. Tex.) in a 80-13 vote; Steven Grimberg (N.D. Ga.) in a 75-18 vote; Steven Seeger (N.D. Ill.) in a 90-1 vote; and Mary McElroy (D.R.I) and Stephanie Gallagher (D. Md.) by voice vote. With these six confirmations the Senate confirmed President Trump’s 150th lifetime judicial appointee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday for four nominees, including Steven Menashi (2d Cir.). During the hearing Menashi repeatedly claimed to owe a duty of confidentiality to his clients when asked about his work on the White House Immigration Working Group and at the Department of Education. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of September 12, there are 108 Article III vacancies, 97 of which are current. Once the 12 remaining recess nominees are officially nominated there will be 47 pending nominees: 16 waiting for floor votes, 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 21 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 6

During the August congressional recess, President Trump announced his intent to nominate 18 more federal judges, including three nominees to the circuit courts: Steven Menashi (2d Cir.), Danielle Hunsaker (9th Cir.), and William Nardini (2d Cir.). Once the Senate confirms two more of his circuit court nominees, President Trump will have appointed one-fourth of all circuit court judges.

View our infographic on the changing composition of the circuit courts.

President Trump will have accomplished this without nominating a single Black or Latinx person to the circuit courts.

Senate will soon confirm 150th Trump nominee to the federal bench

The Senate will likely start confirming judges as soon as it returns from recess next week. Senators voted for cloture on four nominees prior to the recess: Stephanie Haines (W.D. Pa.), Steven Grimberg (N.D. Ga.), Ada Brown (N.D. Tex.), and Steven Seeger (N.D. Ill.). These four nominees could be confirmed as early as Monday, September 9. Their confirmations will bring the total number of confirmed Trump appointees to 150 judges.

The Senate will also hold a nominations hearing on September 11 and is expected to hold the first mark-up for additional nominees on September 12, including Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.) and Lee Rudofsky (E.D. Ark.).

More than 100 vacancies remain

As of September 5, there are 114 Article III vacancies, 103 of which are current. Once the 18 recess nominees are officially nominated there will be 53 pending nominees: 22 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

View our interactive map to learn more about circuit and district court vacancies and pending nominees.

August 1

This week the Senate confirmed 13 district court nominees:

    • Karin Immergut (D. Or.), voice vote
    • John Younge (E.D. Pa.), voice vote
    • Mary Rowland (N.D. Ill.), voice vote
    • Mark Pittman (N.D. Tex.), 54-36
    • Jeffrey Brown (S.D. Tex.), 50-40
    • Brantley Star (N.D. Tex.), 51-39
    • Jason Pulliam (W.D. Tex.), 54-36
    • Martha Pacold (N.D. Ill.), 87-3
    • William Stickman IV (W.D. Pa.), 56-34
    • Sean Jordan (E.D. Tex.), 54-34
    • James Hendrix (N.D. Tex.), 89-1
    • Peter Welte (D.N.D.), 68-22
    • Michael Liburdi (D. Ariz.), 53-37

In addition to these thirteen nominees the Senate confirmed two nominees to the Court of International Trade by voice vote. With the confirmation of these nominees the Trump Administration has now had 146 nominees confirmed to an Article III court. This total represents just over one sixth of all Article III judges. Among those confirmed, John Younge and James Hendrix were previously nominated by President Obama.

Also, this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on three district court nominees: Justin Walker (W.D. Ky.); Lee Rudofksy (E.D. Ark.); and R. Austin Huffaker Jr. (M.D. Ala.). Just this week the ABA rated Justin Walker as not qualified. Walker faced questions in the hearing over this rating and in particular over his lack of legal experience. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of August 1, there are 112 Article III vacancies, 103 of which are current. There are 35 pending nominees: 22 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 7 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Tomorrow the Senate will go on recess for August. On The Bench will return when the Senate does. Please continue to speak out in your community about the importance of the courts and let ACS know if you need any resources.

July 26, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed two district court nominees: Wendy Berger (M.D. Fla.) in a 54-37 vote and Brian Buescher (D. Neb.) in a 51-40 vote. With the confirmation of Berger and Buescher that means 131 out of 870 Article III judges were appointed by President Trump or in other words 15% of all Article III judges.

Also, this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture on 19 district court nominees setting up the potential for a large package of judges to be confirmed before the August recess. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of July 25, there are 127 Article III vacancies, 117 of which are current. There are 50 pending nominees: 37 waiting for floor votes, 3 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 10 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

July 19, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed one appellate nominee: Peter Phipps (3d Cir.) in a 56-40 vote. In addition to Phipps’s confirmation, the Senate filed for cloture on one district court nominee: Clifton Corker (E.D. Tenn.) in a 55-41 vote. The Senate is expected to vote on and likely confirm Corker later this week.

Also, this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting on three district court nominees: Douglas Cole (S.D. Ohio), Matthew McFarland (S.D. Ohio), and Kea Riggs (D.N.M.). The committee voted all three favorably out of committee setting the nominees up for a floor vote. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of July 18, there are 130 Article III vacancies, 119 of which are current. There are 53 pending nominees: 40 waiting for floor votes, 3 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 10 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

July 12, 2019

This week the Senate confirmed one appellate nominee: Daniel Bress (9th Cir.) in a 53-45 vote. This was despite a lack of support from both home state Senatos. With Bress’s confirmation, now one-fourth of all the active judges on the Ninth Circuit are Trump appointees. In addition to Bress’s confirmation, the Senate confirmed three district court nominees: Damon Leichty (N.D. Ind.) in an 85-10 vote; J. Nicholas Ranjan (W.D. Pa.) in an 80-14 vote; and T. Kent Wetherell II (N.D. Fla.) in a 78-15 vote.

Also, this week the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting on three district court nominees: Douglas Cole (S.D. Ohio), Matthew McFarland (S.D. Ohio), and Kea Riggs (D.N.M.). The committee held these three nominations over setting up a potential committee vote to advance them to the floor next week. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of July 11, there are 131 Article III vacancies, 120 of which are current. There are 54 pending nominees: 38 waiting for floor votes, 3 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 13 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

June 28, 2019

Last week the Senate confirmed four district court judges: Matthew Kacsmaryk (N.D. Tex.) in a 52-46 vote; Allen Winsor (N.D. Fla.) in a 54-44 vote; James Cain Jr. (W.D. La.) in a 77-21 vote; and Greg Guidry (E.D. La.) in a 53-46 vote. Kacsmaryk (N.D. Tex.) has a record of anti-LGBTQ statements.

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee also favorably voted sixteen judicial nominees out of committee. These nominees included one circuit court nominee and fifteen district court nominees. This week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for three more district court nominees and on Thursday favorably voted one circuit court nominee and three district court nominees out of committee. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of June 27, there are 132 Article III vacancies, 118 of which are current. There are 56 pending nominees: 42 waiting for floor votes, 3 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 11 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

May 24, 2019

The Senate confirmed one appellate nominee and four district court nominees this week: Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.) in a 53-46 vote; Howard Nielson (D. Utah) in a 51-47 vote; Stephen Clark (E.D. Mo.) in a 53-45 vote; Carl Nichols (D.D.C.) in a 55-43 vote; and Kenneth Bell (W.D.N.C.) in a 55-43 vote. Nielson (D. Utah) has a record of anti-LGBTQ statements. Collins (9th Cir., Cal.) lacked support from Senators Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Harris (D-Cal.).

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on five lifetime judicial nominees: Daniel Bress (9th Cir., Cal.), Michael Bogren (W.D. Mich.), Stephanie Davis (E.D. Mich.), Jason Pulliam (W.D. Tex.), and Frank Volk (S.D.W. Va.)  including Daniel Bress (9th Cir., Cal.) who also lacks support from Senators Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Harris (D-Cal.).

As of May 24, there are 142 Article III vacancies, 126 of which are current. There are 63 pending nominees:  30 waiting for floor votes, 20 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 13 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

May 16, 2019

The Senate confirmed three judicial nominees this week, the anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board decision: Michael Truncale (E.D. Tex.) in a 49-46 vote, Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.) in a 52-45 vote, and Wendy Vitter (E.D. La.) in a 52-45 vote. The three nominees all refused to say if Brown was correctly decided during their hearings. Lee was confirmed over the objection of Sens. Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Harris (D-Cal.), who both withheld their blue slips. Click here to learn more about judicial nominations.

As of May 16, there are there are 148 Article III vacancies, 133 of which are current. There are 69 pending nominees:  36 waiting for floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

May 10, 2019

The Senate confirmed two nominees to the Second Circuit, despite opposition from Senators Schumer and Gillibrand:  Joseph Bianco in a 54-42 vote, and Michael Park in a 52-41 vote. With the two confirmations, the court is coming closer to switching to a majority Republican-nominated judges. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported four nominees out of Committee:  Jeffrey Brown in a 12-10 vote, Robert Colville in a 14-8 vote, Stephanie Haines in a 21-1 vote, and Brantley Starr in a 12-10 vote.

As of May 10, there are there are 147 Article III vacancies, 132 of which are current. There are 71 pending nominees:  34 waiting for floor votes, 23 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 14 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

May 3, 2019

The Senate returned from recess this week and confirmed five district court nominees, surpassing 100 confirmations. The nominees confirmed were J. Campbell Barker (E.D. Tex.), Andrew Brasher (M.D. Tex.), Rodolfo Ruiz (S.D. Fla.), Raul Arias-Marxuach (D.P.R.), and Joshua Wolson (E.D. Pa.). The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on three district court nominees:  Ada Brown (N.D. Tex.), Steven Grimberg (N.D. Ga.), and David Novak (E.D. Va.).

As of May 3, there are there are 149 Article III vacancies, 133 of which are current. There are 67 pending nominees:  36 waiting for floor votes, 19 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 12 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

April 26, 2019

The Senate will return from recess next week. Before recess, Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) teed up five district court nominees for confirmation votes:  J. Campbell Barker (E.D. Tex.), Andrew Brasher (M.D. Ala.), Rodolfo Ruiz (S.D. Fla.), Raul Arias-Marxuach (D.P.R.), and Joshua Wolson (E.D. Pa.). If successful, more than 100 of President Trump’s judicial nominees will have been confirmed.

As of April 26, there are there are 153 Article III vacancies, 137 of which are current. There are 72 pending nominees:  41 waiting for floor votes, 16 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 15 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

April 12, 2019

The Senate enacted a rule change last week minimizing the debate time on district court nominees. As a result, four district court nominees were confirmed in two daysDaniel Domenico (D. Colo.), Patrick Wyrick (W.D. Okla.), Holly Brady (N.D. Ind.), and David Morales (S.D. Tex). The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on three nominees:  Jeffrey Brown (S.D. Tex.), Stephanie Haines (W.D. Pa.), and Brantley Starr (N.D. Tex.).

As of April 12, there are 151 Article III vacancies, 137 of which are current. There are 72 pending nominees:  41 waiting for floor votes, 13 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

April 5, 2019

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to roll back the hours of debate for district court nominees from 30 hours to two hours. This change will enable the Majority to rapidly confirm nominees to lifetime positions without sufficient time for off Committee Senators to review their records. Read ACS’s response here. Roy Altman (S.D. Fla.) was the first nominee confirmed under the new rules and votes are expected on at least four additional nominees. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported five judicial nominees out of Committee:  Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.) in a 12-10 vote, Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.) in a 12-10 vote, James Hendrix (N.D. Tex.) in a 22-0 vote, Sean Jordan (E.D. Tex.) in a 12-10 vote, and Mark Pittman (N.D. Tex.) in a 12-10 vote. Collins and Lee lacked support from Senators Feinstein and Harris.

As of April 5, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 141 of which are current. There are 62 pending nominees:  45 waiting for floor votes 1 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

March 29, 2019

The Senate confirmed Bridget Bade (9th Cir., Ariz.), the last circuit court nominee currently pending on the floor, in a 78-21 vote. The remaining 37 nominees on the floor are for district court vacancies. Republicans are imminently expected to change the debate rules on the floor, because they only need a majority (51 votes) to pass it and cannot secure the 60 votes required for the regular order of legislative rules change. Although a seemingly wonky issue, this change promises to further speed up the confirmation of judicial nominees in the months to come.

March 15, 2019

The Senate confirmed two concerning appellate nominees this week:  Paul Matey (3d Cir., N.J.) in a 54-45 vote and Neomi Rao (D.C. Cir.) in a 53-46 vote. Matey was confirmed despite opposition from both home-state Senators. With these two confirmations, 1 in 5 currently serving circuit court judges have been nominated by President Trump, as the president and the Senate majority continue to reshape the judiciary to be more conservative.

View the ACS infographic: Changing Circuit Court Composition

In a further breakdown of norms, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.) and Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.)who lack support from Senators Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Harris (D-Cal.), both members of the Committee.

As of March 15, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 142 of which are current. There are 62 pending nominees:  42 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 15 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

View our interactive 50-state map to see more information about the circuit and district courts. 

March 7, 2019

The Senate confirmed three concerning appellate nominees this week amid reports that Senator McConnell will be changing the rules to further speed up confirmations:  Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), Chad Readler (6th Cir., Ohio), and Eric Murphy (6th Cir., Ohio). The Sixth Circuit nominees were confirmed despite vocal opposition from Senator Brown (D-Ohio). Readler also incited opposition, including from Senator Collins (R-Me.), due to his work to overturn coverage of pre-existing conditions.The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on two district court nominees:  Sean Jordan (E.D. Tex.) and Mark Pittman (N.D. Tex.). The Committee also reported out five nominees: Joseph Bianco (2d Cir., N.Y.), Michael Park (2d Cir., N.Y.), Greg Guidry (E.D. La.), Michael Liburdi (D. Ariz.), and Peter Welte (D.N.D.).

The President announced nomination of three individuals to district court vacancies:  Robert Colville (W.D. Pa.), Stephanie Haines (W.D. Pa.), and Jason Pulliam (W.D. Tex.).

As of March 7, there are 160 Article III vacancies, 144 of which are current. There are 60 pending nominees:  44 waiting for floor votes, 2 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 14 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

February 29, 2019

The Senate further broke judicial nominations norms by confirming Eric Miller (9th Cir., Wash.), the first nominee confirmed despite opposition from both home-state Senators. Miller was confirmed in a 53-46 vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported Neomi Rao (D.C. Cir.) out of Committee in a 12-10 vote. Rao has faced scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans.

Cloture was filed on Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), Eric Murphy (6th Cir., Ohio), and Chad Readler (6th Cir., Ohio). Votes are expected on all three nominees next week. Murphy and Readler are both lacking blue slips from Senator Brown.

As of March 1, there are 159 Article III vacancies, 139 of which are current. There are 60 pending nominees:  42 waiting for floor votes, 5 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 15 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

February 22, 2019

The Senate is on recess this week. Next week, we expect a confirmation vote on Eric Miller (9th Cir., Wash.), who is lacking support from Senators Cantwell and Murray. Last week, the Senate Rules Committee approved legislation to reduce hours of post-cloture debate on district court nominees from 30 hours to 2 hours. Republicans are imminently expected to change the debate rules on the floor, where they only need a majority (51 votes) to pass it because they cannot secure the 60 votes required for the regular order of legislative rules change.

Although a seemingly wonky issue, this change promises to further speed up the confirmation of judicial nominees in the months to come. Regarding the rule change, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that, “Presidents deserve to have their teams in place.”

ACS disagrees. Lifetime federal judges are meant to be impartial arbiters of the law, not serve at the pleasure of any elected official.

As of February 22, there are 160 Article III vacancies, 140 of which are current. There are 61 pending nominees:  42 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 15 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

February 15, 2019

ACS President Caroline Fredrickson was quoted in Mother Jones about the pattern of Trump nominees, including, Neomi Rao, to refuse to embrace Brown v. Board: “Why wouldn’t you just embrace it? It just shows you how radical the Republican party has become.”

The Senate Rules Committee approved a proposal to reduce hours of post-cloture debate on district court nominees from 30 hours to two hours. Although seemingly a wonky issue, this change promises to have huge impacts in the months to come.  The full 30 hours of debate are rarely utilized, but they have allowed Senators off the Judiciary Committee to fully review nominees. For example, Senator Scott (R-S.C.) had the time to review and then oppose Ryan Bounds (9th Cir., Or.) and Thomas Farr (E.D.N.C.). The proposal must pass by a 60-vote threshold, but Republicans have not ruled out proposing a rule change on the floor to require a simple majority. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week on two nominees lacking blue slips from both home-state Senators: Joseph Bianco (2d Cir., N.Y.) and Michael Park (2d Cir., N.Y.). The Committee also considered three district court nominees: Greg Guidry (E.D. La.), Michael Liburdi (D. Ariz.), and Peter Welte (D.N.D.).

As of February 15, there are 159 Article III vacancies, 139 of which are current. There are 61 pending nominees:  42 waiting for floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 15 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

 

February 8, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting on February 7, and voted the Attorney General nominee William Barr out of Committee in a 12-10 vote. The Committee also reported out 42 nominees to lifetime judgeships. Among the nominees reported were four appellate nominees missing blue slips: Paul Matey (3d Cir., N.J.), Eric Miller (9th Cir., Wash.), Eric Murphy (6th Cir., Ohio), and Chad Readler (6th Cir., Ohio).

On February 5, the Committee will held a hearing for Neomi Rao (D.C. Cir.), nominated for the seat left by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Rao was questioned on concerning writings about sexual assault and race.

As of February 8, there are 159 Article III vacancies, 138 of which are current. There are 61 pending nominees:  42 waiting for floor votes, 1 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

February 1, 2019

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting on January 29, during which, as is customary, they held over the Attorney General nominee William Barr and 42 nominees to lifetime judgeships. The Committee will meet again February 7, in a “monster markup” to report these nominees to the Senate floor for a vote.  On February 5 the committee will hold a hearing for Neomi Rao (D.C. Cir.), nominated for the seat left by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and  for Matthew McFarland (S.D. Ohio).

Chairman Lindsey Graham confirmed this week that home-state senator blue slips will be respected for nominees to the district courts. The lack of blue slip respect for appellate nominees was reiterated when the President announced the nomination of Daniel Bress (9th Cir., Cal.) and re-nomination of Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.) and Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.), all of whom lack support from Senators Feinstein (D-Cal.) and Harris (D-Cal.). An additional four re-nominees were named for district court vacancies in California.

As of February 1, there are 156 Article III vacancies, 137 of which are current. There are 60 pending nominees:  42 waiting to be reported out of Committee and 18 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

January 25, 2019

The President announced he would re-nominate 48 judicial nominees, nine of them to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, pending at the end of the 115th Congress. Of the appellate nominees, two are missing blue slips from both home-state Senators and two are missing blue slips from one home-state Senator. For more information on the blue slip tradition, click here . A monster mark-up in the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected next week for William Barr and the re-nominated individuals.

January 18, 2019

The president announced his intention to nominate six people for judicial vacancies. Like many of the president’s previous nominees, all six are white men. James Hendrix (N.D. Tex.) was previously nominated by President Obama. None of the nominees pending at the end of the 115th Congress have been re-nominated.

As of January 18, there are 153 Article III vacancies, 134 of which are current. There are six nominees waiting for hearings.

January 11, 2019

The nomination hearing to consider William Barr for the position of Attorney General will take place on January 15 and 16. All judicial nominees left pending at the end of the 115th Congress were returned to the White House on January 3. The President will decide which nominees to re-nominate. Some of the most controversial nominees may not be re-nominated, but it is widely expected that most of the returned individuals will be re-nominated. For more information on judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations, click here.

As of January 10, there are 151 Article III vacancies, 134 of which are current.

January 4, 2019

The 116th Congress was sworn in this week. The judicial nominees left pending at the end of the 115th Congress will need to be re-nominated by the President in order to be considered. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) will be joining the Senate Judiciary Committee after criticism for the absence of Republican women serving on the Committee. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) will also be joining the Committee, which will now be led by Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

As of January 4, there are 151 Article III vacancies, 133 of which are current. Of the 161 nominees named by President Trump, 85 were confirmed by the Senate. There were 70 nominees pending at the end of the 115th Congress:  30 waiting for Senate floor votes, 24 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 16 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. All pending nominees from the last Congress will be returned to the White House. The President will decide which nominees to re-nominate. Some of the most controversial nominees may not be re-nominated.

For more information, see ACS’s Judicial Nominations Resources.

December 21, 2018

Before adjourning the 115th Congress, the Senate held off on confirming yet another package of judicial nominees. Of President Trump’s 161 judicial nominees, 85 were confirmed this Congress, compared to 62 nominees confirmed during President Obama’s first two years in office. The high number of confirmations was largely a result of breakdowns in the judicial nominations process. [Learn about broken norms, like ignoring ABA ratings, in its rush to confirm President Trump’s nominees.] Of the 85 nominees, 92% are white.

As of December 21, there are 149 Article III vacancies, 132 of which are current. There are 70 nominees pending:  30 waiting for Senate floor votes, 24 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 16 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 74% are male, 59% are white males, and 20% are people of color.

December 14, 2018

The Senate voted 50-50 in the confirmation vote on Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., S.D.), who received a Not Qualified rating from the ABA. The confirmation vote on Kobes is the ninth time the Senate has confirmed a nominee with at least a partially “not qualified” rating by the ABA. [Learn about how the Senate GOP is breaking norms, like ignoring ABA ratings, in its rush to confirm President Trump’s nominees.]

The Vice President broke the first-ever judicial confirmation tie by any Vice President on Kobes, the 30th nominee confirmed to the U.S. Courts of Appeals this Congress.

Sen. Merkley (D-Or.) wrote this week about the judicial nominees posing threats to equal justice under law, including the failed nominees for the 9th Cir. and E.D.N.C.

As of December 14, there are 149 Article III vacancies, 132 of which are current. There are 70 nominees pending:  30 waiting for Senate floor votes, 24 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 16 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 74% are male, 59% are white males, and 20% are people of color. Of the 161 nominees named by President Trump, 85 have been confirmed by the Senate.

December 7, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed an Executive Business Meeting on 15 nominees because Sen. Flake (R-Ariz.) is refusing to vote on any judges until a vote is taken to protect the Mueller investigation. To learn more about norms being broken in the partisan attempt to capture the courts, click here.

As of December 7, there are 149 Article III vacancies, 128 of which are current. There are 72 nominees pending:  31 waiting for Senate floor votes, 24 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 16 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 75% are male, 61% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 161 nominees named by President Trump, 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

November 30, 2018

A vote scheduled for November 29, on whether to confirm controversial nominee Thomas Farr to the E.D.N.C. was halted after Sen. Scott (R-S.C.) announced he would oppose Farr’s confirmation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for four judicial nominees:  Brian Buescher (D. Neb.), Clifton Corker (E.D. Tenn.), M. Baker (Ct. Intl. Trade), and Tim Reif (Ct. Intl. Trade). The Committee planned to report up to 15 nominees out of Committee this week, but Senator Flake (R-Ariz.) is refusing to vote on any judges until a vote is taken to protect the Mueller investigation.. The Senate is also cuing up Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., Neb.) for a confirmation vote after a 50-49 cloture vote with the Vice President breaking a tie, despite his majority Not Qualified rating from the American Bar Association.

As of November 30, there are 148 Article III vacancies, 126 of which are current. There are 72 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 24 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 16 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 75% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 161 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

November 16, 2018

The President announced he will be nominating Neomi Rao to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit created by Justice Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court.

The Senate returned from recess on November 13 and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for five nominees:  Paul Matey (3d Cir., N.J.), Jean-Paul Boulee (N.D. Ga.), James Cain (W.D. La.), Damon Leichty (N.D. Ind.), and J. Nicholas Ranjan (W.D. Pa.). Matey lacks blue slips from Senators Booker and Menendez. The Committee also held an Executive Business Meeting on November 15, but held over 14 lifetime judicial nominees.

As of November 16, there are 144 Article III vacancies, 124 of which are current. There are 72 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 20 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 20 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 76% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

November 9, 2018

Justice Brett Kavanaugh received his investiture at the Supreme Court of the United States on November 8. The Senate will return from recess on November 13. The Senate Judiciary Committee has noticed a hearing for November 13, though no nominees have been listed. The Committee is also expected to hold an Executive Business Meeting.

As of November 9, there are 144 Article III vacancies, 124 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 76% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

November 2, 2018

After holding two unprecedented hearings during recess despite objection from the Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be convening until after the Senate returns from recess on November 13. The Committee is expected to hold a hearing on November 14, as well as an Executive Business Meeting on November 15, during which they will consider 15 judicial nominees.

As of November 2, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 123 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the pending nominees 76% are male, 60% are white males, and 18% are people of color. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

October 26, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee continued to break norms, holding a second hearing during recess despite objection from all Democratic members of the Committee, for three judicial nominees. The result was a practically empty dais, with two Republican Senators and no Democratic Senators in attendance to question nominees the hearing concluded in 40 minutes. A nominee for a 9th Cir. seat in Washington state, Eric Miller, lacked blue slips from both Senators. The other two nominees on the hearing agenda were Bridge Bade (9th Cir., Ariz.) and Karin Immergut (D. Or.).

As of October 26, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 121 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 15 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 24 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Of the 160 nominees named by President Trump 84 have been confirmed by the Senate.

October 19, 2018

Last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced confirmation of 15 lower court nominees by threatening to cancel recess ahead of the midterm elections to confirm all judicial nominees waiting for votes. In an unprecedented move, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on October 17, for six nominees, despite the Senate being in recess and despite objection from all Democratic members of the Committee. The result was a practically empty dais, with two Republican Senators and no Democratic Senators in attendance to question nominees. Nominees on the agenda were Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), Thomas Barber (M.D. Fla.), Wendy Berger (M.D. Fla.), Corey Maze (N.D. Ala.), Rodney Smith (S.D. Fla.), and T. Kent Wetherell (N.D. Fla.). Committee Chair Chuck Grassley plans to hold a hearing next week, including for Eric Miller (9th Cir., Wash.) who lacks support from both home-state Senators. To learn more about norms being broken in the partisan attempt to capture the courts, click here.

As of October 19, there are 143 Article III vacancies, 121 of which are current. There are 71 nominees pending:  32 waiting for Senate floor votes, 12 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. The Senate has confirmed 84 nominees to lifetime judicial seats, twice the number confirmed at this point in President Obama’s Administration.

October 12, 2018

On October 6, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States in a 50-48 vote.

The Trump administration, aided by Senate leadership, continues its quest to dramatically transform the composition of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Courts. The Senate has been confirming nominees at an accelerated rate by disregarding norms and traditions like sidestepping the blue slip, ignoring ABA ratings of individual nominees, and stacking hearings.

This week, White House announced intent to nominate 13 men for judicial vacancies: Joseph Bianco (2d Cir., N.Y.), Patrick Bumatay (9th Cir., Cal.), Daniel Collins (9th Cir., Cal.), Kenneth Lee (9th Cir., Cal.), Michael Park (2d Cir., N.Y.), Stanley Bumenfeld (C.D. Cal.), Brian Buescher (D. Neb.), Clifton Corker (E.D. Tenn.), Philip Halpern (S.D.N.Y.), Thomas Marcelle (N.D.N.Y.), Matthew McFarland (S.D. Ohio), Jeremy Rosen (C.D. Cal.), and Mark Scarsi (C.D. Cal.).

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for six nominees: Eric Murphy (6th Cir., Ohio), Chad Readler (6th Cir., Ohio), Rossie Alston (E.D. Va.), Pamela Barker (N.D. Ohio), and Sarah Morrison (S.D. Ohio). It was the seventh hearing this Congress with multiple nominees to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Senator Brown (D-Ohio) did not submit blue slips for Murphy or Readler; the fourth and fifth nominees to be given a hearing despite lacking at least one blue slip from a home-state Senator.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported eight nominees out of Committee: Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., Neb.) in an 11-10 vote, Kenneth Bell (W.D.N.C.) in an 11-10 vote, Stephanie Gallagher (D. Md.) in a 20-1 vote, Mary McElroy (D.R.I.), in a 19-2 vote, Carl Nichols (D.D.C.) in an 11-10 vote, Martha Pacold (N.D. Ill.) in an 18-3 vote, Mary Rowland (N.D. Ill.) in a 16-5 vote, and Stephen Seeger in a voice vote. Jonathan Kobes was reported despite have a Not Qualified rating from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary due to lack of relevant experience.

As of October 12, there are 158 Article III vacancies, 135 of which are current. There are 87 nominees pending:  47 waiting for Senate floor votes, 6 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 34 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

October 5, 2018

A cloture vote is scheduled for 10:30 AM, October 5, to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The FBI delivered its report, without having interviewed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh, ahead of the October 5 deadline, and Senators were given an opportunity to review a single copy of the report.

ACS’s Vacancy Toolkit has more coverage and analysis on the Kavanaugh nomination.

September 28, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on September 27, to hear testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh regarding sexual assault allegations. The Committee is scheduled to hold an Executive Business Meeting to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination, despite lack of an FBI investigation into allegations.

As of September 28, there are 156 Article III vacancies, 131 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

ACS’s Vacancy Toolkit has more coverage and analysis on the Kavanaugh nomination.

September 21, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has ignored calls for a non-partisan investigation of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, Grassley scheduled a hearing for Monday, September 24, at which he intends to have Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testify. Dr. Blasey Ford’s lawyer has just re-opened talks to consider the terms of the hearing.

As of September 21, there are 156 Article III vacancies, 130 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 9 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 27 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 13, 2018

September 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business meeting to consider Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States along with 3 nominees to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and 17 nominees to the U.S. District Courts. Senator Grassley announced the Committee will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on September 20, at 1:45 PM, in defiance of Committee rules and requests from Democratic Senators for access to withheld documents. Ultimately, 11 nominees were reported out of Committee: Ryan Nelson (9th Cir., Idaho) in an 11-10 vote, Richard Sullivan (2d Cir., N.Y.) in a 17-4 vote, Gary Brown (E.D.N.Y.) in a 20-1 vote, Stephen Clark (E.D. Mo.) in an 11-10 vote, Diane Gujarati (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Eric Komitee (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Rachel Kovner (E.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Lewis Liman (S.D.N.Y.) in a 17-4 vote, John Sinatra (W.D.N.Y.) a 16-5 vote, Mary Vyskocil (S.D.N.Y.) in a 21-0 vote, Joshua Wolson (E.D. Pa.) in an 18-3 vote.

Senator McConnell announced he intends to keep the Senate in session for the month of October to clear the decks of nominees to the lower courts.

As of September 14, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 129 of which are current. There are 75 nominees pending:  39 waiting for Senate floor votes and 7 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

September 7, 2018

Today is the fourth day of hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s (D.C. Cir.) nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States and will feature panels of witnesses. Documents formerly designated “committee confidential” released over the objection of Republican senators after the second day of hearings shed new light on Judge Kavanaugh’s views regarding reproductive rights, racial profiling, affirmative action, as well as possible misrepresentations he made in previous testimony before the committee. 

On September 6, the Senate voted to confirm eight nominees to the U.S. District Courts. The nominees were Alan Albright (W.D. Tex.), Kari Dooley (D. Conn.), Marilyn Horan (W.D. Pa.), William Jung (M.D. Fla.), Dominic Lanza (D. Ariz.), Robert Summerhays (W.D. La.), Eric Tostrud (D. Minn.), and C.J. Williams (N.D. Iowa). All of the nominees were confirmed in voice votes, except for Dominic Lanza, who was confirmed in a 60-35 vote, and C.J. Williams in a 79-12 vote.

As of September 7, there are 155 Article III vacancies, 129 of which are current. There are 74 nominees pending:  28 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 31, 2018

The hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s (D.C. Cir.) nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States will commence on September 4. ACS will be posting updates at the hearings progress.

On August 28, the Senate voted to confirm seven nominees to the U.S. District Courts with bipartisan support in an attempt to clear the judicial nominations docket before Labor Day. The nominees were Barry Ashe (E.D. La.), R. Stan Baker (S.D. Ga.), Susan Baxter (W.D. Pa.), Nancy Brasel (D. Minn.), Charles Goodwin (W.D. Okla.), Terry Moorer (S.D. Ala.), James Sweeney II (S.D. Ind.). All of the nominees were confirmed in voice votes, except for Charles Goodwin, who was confirmed in a 52-42 vote. Charles Goodwin is the sixth nominee to be confirmed this Congress with at least a partial Not Qualified rating from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

On August 28, the President nominated four individuals for vacancies in the federal courts: Bridge Bade (9th Cir., Ariz.), Allison Rushing (4th Cir., N.C.), J.P. Boulee (N.D. Ga.), and James Cain Jr. (W.D. La.).

As of August 30, there are 163 Article III vacancies, 134 of which are current. There are 83 nominees pending: 36 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 29 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 23, 2018

In response to this week’s conviction of President Trump’s former campaign manager and the guilty plea of his former lawyer that directly implicated the President in criminal activity many Senators are calling for postponement of the hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

On August 22, Majority Leader McConnell filed cloture on 12 nominees to the U.S. District Courts in an attempt to clear the judicial nominations docket before Labor Day with bipartisan support, thereby confirming even more Trump judges. The nominees are Alan Albright (W.D. Tex.), Barry Ashe (E.D. La.), R. Stan Baker (S.D. Ga.), Susan Baxter (W.D. Pa.), Charles Goodwin (W.D. Okla.), Marilyn Horan (W.D. Pa.), William Jung (M.D. Fla.), Dominic Lanza (D. Ariz.), Terry Moorer (S.D. Ala.), James Sweeney II (S.D. Ind.), Robert Summerhays (W.D. La.), and C.J. Williams (N.D. Iowa).

On August 22, The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on six nominees this week:  Jonathan Kobes (8th Cir., S.D.), Kenneth Bell (W.D.N.C.), Carl Nichols (D.D.C.), Martha Pacold (N.D. Ill.), Mary Rowland (N.D. Ill.), and Steven Seeger (N.D. Ill.).

As of August 23, there are 168 Article III vacancies, 141 of which are current. There are 86 nominees pending:  43 waiting for Senate floor votes and 18 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 25 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

August 17, 2018

In a further breakdown of norms, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that the hearing to consider Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court will take place September 4-7, 2018, despite the lack of a full record from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in President George W. Bush’s Administration.

On August 16, the Senate confirmed A. Marvin Quattlebaum (4th Cir., S.C.) in a 62-28 vote and Julius Richardson (4th Cir., S.C.) in a 81-8 vote.

As of August 16, there are 168 Article III vacancies, 141 of which are current. There are 86 nominees pending:  43 waiting for Senate floor votes and 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 33 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

Judicial Nominations: A Year in Review

The Senate confirmed 13 district court nominees this week, including former ACS chapter leader Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the Eastern District of Michigan. This brings the total number of confirmed lifetime judges during this administration to 187.

With 2019 ending, it is important to take stock of the historic overhaul of the federal judiciary. In 2019, the Senate confirmed 102 lifetime judges, 20 of whom were to the circuit courts. This is an incredibly rapid pace and means that 1 lifetime judge was confirmed every 4 days. These confirmations illustrate two larger trends in judicial nominations under this administration: an increase in ABA “not qualified” ratings and a failure to value diversity on the federal bench.

As of December 20, there are 84 Article III vacancies, 70 of which are current. Once the two intent to nominate nominees are officially nominated there will be 35 pending nominees: 5 waiting for floor votes, 10 waiting to be reported out of Committee, and 20 waiting for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.

The Senate is scheduled to recess for the holidays. On the Bench will return when the Senate does. Please continue to speak out in your community about the importance of the courts and let ACS know if you need any resources.

Visit more ACS resources on judicial nominations.

ACS's Weekly Roundup of Judicial Nominations Activity