Will the Slow Pace of Judicial Confirmations Make 80 Vacancies the New Normal?


Released on August 4, 2011, this issue brief focuses on the unprecedented, slow pace of judicial confirmations in the Senate. At a time when caseloads in our federal courts are at a record high, the Senate’s confirmation process for judicial nominees has failed to keep pace with new judicial vacancies. This has stretched the federal judiciary, already overextended, close to its breaking point. While the number of judicial vacancies typically increases at the beginning of a new presidency, a rapid decline usually follows. The Obama Presidency has seen that trend broken. Never before has the number of vacancies risen so sharply and remained so high for so long during a President’s term. For 763 straight days there have been more than 80 vacancies on the federal bench, and there is no end in sight.

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