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Federal Judicial Nominations: the August Recess Edition

The United States Senate has essentially closed down until after Labor Day. Before it adjourned yesterday, Judge Raymond Chen was unanimously confirmed to the Federal Circuit, and votes were scheduled on two district court nominees in September. This leaves a total of 11 judicial nominations ready for a vote, including DC Circuit nominee Patricia A. Millett, who was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. A number of other female nominees, including Nina Pillard, also nominated to the D.C. Circuit, are expected to be ready for floor votes in September.

In addition, the President made nine more nominations yesterday. One of these individuals, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy L. Moritz, nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, would bring the total number of women on the Tenth Circuit to three, if confirmed along with the other pending nominee to the Tenth Circuit (Carolyn McHugh). There are a total of 24 female nominees overall who, if confirmed, would not only increase the number of female judges on the Tenth Circuit, the D.C. Circuit, and district courts around the country, but would also bring the first woman judge to four district courts (in Montana, New Hampshire, Western District of New York, and the Eastern District of Tennessee).

At this point, there are 86 vacancies across the federal judiciary, 35 of which have been deemed “judicial emergencies” because of the overwhelming caseloads. If all the pending nominees were confirmed, the number of vacancies would be more than halved and, for the first time during President Obama’s Administration, drop below the number of vacancies that existed when President Obama first took office. A benchmark that the Senate should aspire to when it returns in September.

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