Judicial Vacancies Fact Sheet

The Senate Needs to Act Promptly on Judicial Nominations

An increasing number of federal judicial vacancies throughout the federal court system is straining the capacity of the federal courts to administer justice in an adequate and timely manner. Listing of the vacancies in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts.

The rising number of judicial vacancies prevents the prompt and timely administration of justice in the federal courts–where FBA members practice. This is causing unnecessary hardship and increased costs on individuals and businesses with lawsuits pending in the federal courts.
The judicial vacancies problem has reached crisis point with more than one-third of the current 103 vacancies in the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the District Courts have existed for at least 18 months. The Judicial Conference, the policy making body of the federal judiciary, has designated these vacancies as “judicial emergencies.”

The case for accelerated action on judicial vacancies is further highlighted by the need for The Federal Judgeship Act (S. 1653, H.R. 3662), supported by the Judicial Conference and the FBA, to add 12 new circuit judgeships and 51 new district judgeships. It is a bitter irony that the case for these additional judgeships, which rests upon rising caseloads and insufficient resources throughout parts of the federal court system, rests on the assumption that all existing judgeships are already filled and that no vacancies exist.

The FBA seeks the fair and swift administration of justice for all litigants in the federal courts. This requires a prompt up-or-down vote by the Senate on judicial nominees cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Prompt action by the President in naming sufficient numbers of judicial candidates and prompt Senate action in acting upon those nominations will ultimately reduce the number of vacancies to a more tolerable level.

The Federal Bar Association as a matter of policy takes no position on the credentials or qualifications of specific nominees to the federal bench.

The FBA’s foremost interest lies in the assurance of prompt, dispositive action by the President in nominating federal judicial candidates and the Senate in confirming (or not confirming) them.