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We produce and constantly update in-depth fact sheets on the federal judiciary, detailing vacancies, nominations, and trends.
Judicial Selection Snapshot: An overview of the current state of the federal judicial selection process. Contains 1) statistics on Article III (lifetime) court vacancies and President Obama’s judicial nominees to those seats, 2) comparative charts on the pace of judicial nominations, the pace of judicial confirmations, and the percentage of nominees confirmed over the last three presidencies, 3) charts outlining vacancy, nomination, and confirmation trends during the Obama Presidency, and 4) data detailing the racial, gender, and professional diversity of President Obama’s nominees along with comparative data for the previous five presidents. Download now.
Pending Nominees: An overview of the status of pending judicial nominations. Contains lists of nominees 1) pending on the Senate floor and 2) nominees pending in committee, along with data on when the nominations were made, when the Senate took action on the nominations, vote summaries (if applicable), and demographic information about the nominees. Download now.
Vacancies without Nominees: An overview of judicial vacancies without nominees. Contains 1) charts of current and future vacancies without nominees indicating all dates and actions relevant to that vacancy, and 2) maps of vacancies without nominees color-coded according to the length of time that seats have gone without nominees. Maps for district court vacancies are broken down by the partisan composition of each state’s senate delegation. Download now.
NEW - Judicial Emergency Maps: An overview of vacancies that are also Judicial Emergencies. Download now.
Judicial Selection Calendar: A timeline of scheduled and possible White House and Senate action on judicial vacancies and nominees during 2013. Download now.
Reports on the Judiciary
Choose from a list of recent reports below, or visit our resource library for a full searchable list of all Alliance for Jutsice resources, fact sheets, and special reports.
As President Obama’s second term begins in earnest, there is room for hope that the Administration and the Senate will finally be able to make some headway in reducing the historic backlog of unfilled judicial vacancies. The President has, over the last year, significantly increased his nomination pace, putting pressure on the Senate to act to confirm his nominees. Moreover, the Senate has recently changed its rules to allow for the swifter consideration of district court nominees, potentially allowing for an easier confirmation process. Read More »
In recent years, the Supreme Court has decided numerous highly controversial cases, often by 5-4 margins, which have served to roll back the clock on decades of progressive jurisprudence. This term could bring more of the same. The Supreme Court 2012-2013 term is already packed with cases with the potential to restrict corporate accountability and limit everyday Americans’ civil rights and access to justice. Moreover, the Court may also agree to consider challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, California’s Proposition 8, and the Voting Rights Act. In short, the Court’s decisions this term could have disastrous consequences for the ability of consumers, victims of discrimination, human rights plaintiffs, and others to get a fair day in court. Read More »
As President Obama finishes his first term and looks forward to his second, the cumulative effects of Republican senators’ ceaseless obstruction of judicial nominees is evident: the President will complete his fourth year in office with more vacancies and judicial emergencies than when he was inaugurated and with far fewer confirmations than his two predecessors had at the end of their first terms. In short, while the President has enjoyed some major judicial selection victories—most notably his appointments to the Supreme Court—his first term has largely been a missed opportunity to fully staff the lower federal courts. Given the current situation, the President has a significant amount of unfinished business to complete during the remainder of his presidency. Read More »
The State of the Judiciary: Judicial Selection During the Remainder of President Obama's First Term (May 2012)
As President Obama nears the home stretch of his first term, the cumulative effects of Republican senators’ ceaseless obstruction of judicial nominees and election-year politics will likely mean that President Obama will finish his first term with more vacancies and judicial emergencies than when he took office and with far fewer confirmations than his two predecessors had at the end of their first terms. This will be the case even if the Senate confirms several dozen nominees over the remainder of the Congress. Read More »
The 2011-12 U.S. Supreme Court term will be best remembered for the Court’s landmark ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), in which it upheld the constitutionality of the Act but opened the door to placing future limits on Congress’ ability to regulate interstate commerce and to impose conditions on federal grants to the states. That decision, however, was far from the only ruling of major significance this term. The Court issued a number of important decisions that reflect its continuing bias in favor of corporate interests and against the rights of everyday Americans, demonstrating that Chief Justice John Roberts’ One-Percent Court was once again open for business. Read More »
The State of the Judiciary: Judicial Nominations During the First Three Years of the Obama Presidency
After three years of the Obama presidency, Republican senators‘ relentless, unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominees has created the almost unimaginable possibility that by the end of the president‘s first term, the overburdened federal courts may have more vacancies than when his presidency began. Republicans‘ goal has been clear from the start: to keep as many seats as possible vacant for a future Republican president to fill. Indeed, this is the strategy that they employed at the end of the Clinton Administration, when they kept 67 seats vacant. Read More »
The Thurmond Rule is not a formal Senate procedure or a bipartisan agreement, nor has its meaning or parameters been clearly articulated. In fact, as shown below, over the last 30 years confirmations of district and circuit court nominees have continued well into presidential election years under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. Read More »
This report tracks how the judicial selection process has changed so far during the 112th Congress. It contains the most comprehensive, up-to-date statistical and demographic information about Obama's judicial nominees of any public source. Read More »
After some progress was made in filling vacant judgeships earlier this year, continuing acrimony in the U.S. Senate has once again infected the judicial confirmation process, leaving our courts in crisis and millions of Americans with restricted access to justice. With Senate Republicans blocking nominees they have supported in the Senate Judiciary Committee, today there are the same number of current and future judicial vacancies—114—as there were at the beginning of the year. More than one in seven federal judgeships is vacant, with 37 qualifying as judicial emergencies. The Senate has confirmed only nine judges in the last three months, while thirteen new vacancies have arisen. We are on pace to end the 112th Congress with more judicial vacancies than there were at the beginning of the session. Read More »
This calendar provides an easily digestible overview of all White House and Senate action on judicial nominees during 2011. Aside from past action, it shows when the Senate will likely be in session and when the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to hold hearings and executive business meetings during the remainder of the year. As such, it provides the reader with an easy means of understanding action on judicial nominees over the course of the year. Read More »
President Obama’s appointees to the federal circuit courts of appeals have been the most diverse in American history. Fifty percent of his nominees have been people of color and 40 percent have been female. Notably, 90 percent of the judges the Obama nominees are replacing are white and 80 percent are male—a harbinger of significant changes coming to the federal judiciary. Although only 20 of the President’s 32 nominees to the circuit courts have been confirmed at this stage in his presidency due to the historically slow pace of Senate action, his track record holds the promise of a federal court system that more closely reflects the diverse nature of the American people. With 10 nominees pending in the Senate for the 17 circuit court seats currently vacant, the president has an opportunity to make significant additional strides in reshaping the appellate bench. Read More »
A pictorial depiction of the circuit court judges who have left or are leaving the bench and those men and women appointed by President Obama to replace them. Read More »
One of the most important aspects of a president’s legacy is the nominations he makes to the federal bench. A president’s other policies and programs, no matter how laudatory, may be undone by subsequent administrations and Congresses. But federal judges enjoy lifetime appointments, and dramatically shape the outcome of decisions on a host of issues that directly affect the lives of everyday Americans. Against that backdrop, President Barack Obama had a very uneven record with judicial nominations during the 111th Congress. Read More »
Under the Constitution of the United States, the President and the Senate share responsibility for filling federal judicial vacancies. The President nominates people to judgeships, and the Senate confirms them. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have used unprecedented tactics to delay President Obama’s nominees, to dramatic effect. At this point in his first term, President Obama has had fewer nominees confirmed—and his nominees have taken longer to be confirmed—than President Bush’s nominees at a comparable point in his presidency. Read More »
February 15, 2011–Alliance for Justice has joined with a diverse coalition of 75 other organizations in signing an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging the Senate to return to “regular order” and permit swift confirmation votes on President Obama’s judicial nominees. Read More »
The State of the Judiciary: The Obama Administration - The First 20 Months Read More »
Judicial Nominations in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations: Which One of These is Not Like the Others?
President Barack Obama has faced unprecedented Republican obstruction of his judicial nominees. As can be seen below, the charts for judicial vacancies and judicial emergencies show an unbroken upward trajectory, with no apparent end in sight. This phenomenon is in stark contrast to the experience under Presidents Bush and Clinton who, despite closely divided Senates, were able to significantly reduce the number of judicial vacancies they inherited by the end of their first two years in office. Read More »
Judicial Nominees Being Blocked by Republican Senators (11/23/2010) Read More »
This report documents why breaking the judicial nominee logjam requires changing the way the Senate does business. Read More »