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State of the Judiciary: Judicial Selection During Obama’s Second Term

Alliance for Justice Report – The State of the Judiciary – Judicial Selection During the 113th Congress, October 2013

“Throughout President Obama’s nearly five years in office, the federal courts have experienced an unprecedented vacancy crisis.  Congress returned from the August 2013 recess to a federal judiciary with 109 current and future vacancies, 45 pending nominees, and more than 60 vacancies without nominees, almost exclusively concentrated in states with at least one Republican senator.  While several major Senate showdowns in the past year have set the stage for progress in filling judicial vacancies, and more than half of the current vacancies have nominees pending either on the Senate floor or in the Senate Judiciary Committee, there are more unfilled vacancies as of this report than there were as of AFJ’s last State of the Judiciary Report in March 2013. Although the numbers appear bleak, the situation as of October 2013 is in some ways less dire than at the start of President Obama’s second term.  Nine nominees await votes on the Senate floor, and there is a backlog of 42 nominees awaiting Judiciary Committee processing.  President Obama has put forth a full slate of nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, each of whom was given the highest possible rating by the American Bar Association.  Nominees are pending for 19 of the 37 vacancies classified as “judicial emergencies.”

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