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The federal courts are a vital part of our system of checks and balances, and Americans count on the courts to defend their rights.
While the U.S. Supreme Court typically hears fewer than 100 cases each year, the circuit courts of appeals hear about 60,000, and district courts hear thousands more. These cases include discrimination and civil rights claims, criminal prosecutions, environmental and consumer protection litigation, challenges to government power, and lawsuits to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing.
But without enough judges, these cases can be delayed for years.
AFJ President Nan Aron speaks often about the judicial nominations process and why it matters to have a federal judiciary fully staffed by independent, well-qualified men and women:
» Interview with KPFA Radio, February 2013
» Lecture at Syracuse University, March 2013:
The president nominates judges to serve on district and circuit courts, and these nominees must be approved by the Senate. Once approved, federal judges serve for life unless they resign or are removed from office through the impeachment process.
Each nomination must go through the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. The committee holds a hearing and then votes on the nominee. If a majority of the committee votes in favor the nomination is sent to the full Senate for a vote.
» For detailed flowcharts of both the pre-nomination and post-selection processes, see our Judicial Selection Timeline
» For a map of the geographic boundaries of the federal circuit and district courts, click here