Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count 6/13/2012
- For a District by District break down, see: Federal Court Vacancy Warning System
The current vacancy warning level for the U.S. District courts is set at Blue. There were two new confirmations this week and three new vacancies. Additionally, two vacancies were added to the district court total based on a past count error, raising the total to 60. Leaving the final tally at 72 vacancies or approximately 8.3% of the total Article III posts currently unfilled. The vacancy information for the various court levels is as follows:
|(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)|
|More than 40%|
|Supreme Court||0% or no vacancies|
|Appeals Courts||6.7% or 12 vacancies|
|District Courts||8.8% or 60 vacancies|
There are currently 9 Supreme Court posts, 179 appellate court posts and 680 district court posts for a total of 868 Article III judges. This count includes four temporary posts, one each in the Northern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Southern District of Florida and the Central District of California. This also includes a shared post between the two Missouri districts and counts it as two posts with separate vacancies.
The new weekly map feature will be updated every week and posted here and on the vacancy warning level analysis page.
On June 12, 2012, the United States Senate confirmed Andrew Hurwitz to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with a voice vote Hurwitz was originally appointed on November 2, 2011, by Barack Obama to the seat vacated by Mary M. Schroeder. At the time of appointment, Hurwitz was the Vice Chief Justice of the five member Arizona Supreme Court. Hurwitz was rated Unanimously Well Qualified by the American Bar Association. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 26, 2012 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. The confirmation fills one of two vacancies on the court of twenty-nine, leaving the vacancy warning level unchanged at Blue.
Northern District of Ohio
On June 6, 2012, the United States Senate confirmed Jeffrey J. Helmick to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with a vote of 62-36. Helmick was originally appointed on May 11, 2011, by Barack Obama to the seat vacated by James Carr. At the time of appointment, Helmick was a private practice lawyer in in Toledo, Ohio. Helmick was rated Substantial Majority Well Qualified, Minority Qualified by the American Bar Association. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 15, 2012 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. The confirmation fills the only vacancy on the court of eleven, lowering the vacancy warning level from Blue to Green.
Eastern District of Washington
On June 7, 2012, Judge Edward Shea assumed senior status for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington after serving on the court for 14 years. Shea was originally appointed by Bill Clinton and was a private practice attorney at the time of appointment. A native of Massachusetts, Shea graduated from Boston State College with his Bachelor's Degree in 1965 and later graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with his J.D. in 1970. The vacancy creates the first vacancy on the court of four lowering the vacancy warning level from Green to Yellow.
District of Maryland
On June 8, 2012, Judge Benson Legg assumed senior status for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland after serving on the court for almost 21 years. He served as chief judge of the court from 2003 - 2010. Legg was originally appointed by George H.W. Bush and was a private practice attorney at the time of appointment. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Legg graduated from Princeton University with his Bachelor's Degree in 1970 and later from the University of Virginia School of Law with his Juris Doctor degree in 1973. The vacancy creates the first vacancy on the court of ten lowering the vacancy warning level from Green to Blue. Paul Grimm has been appointed to fill the vacancy.
Eastern District of Michigan
On June 9, 2012, Judge Marianne Battani assumed senior status for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after serving on the court for 12 years. Battani was originally appointed by Bill Clinton and served as a Circuit Court Judge for the Wayne County Circuit Court at the time of appointment. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Battani graduated from University of Detroit with her Bachelor's Degree in 1966 and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Michigan State University's Detroit College of Law in 1972. The vacancy creates the third vacancy on the court of fifteen leaving the vacancy warning level unchanged at Yellow.
On June 11, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated two individuals to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and two individuals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
District of Columbia Circuit
Barack Obama nominated Caitlin Halligan and Srikanth Srinivasan to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill the vacancies left by John Roberts and Raymond Randolph respectively. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "Caitlin Halligan and Sri Srinivasan are dedicated public servants who will bring their tremendous experience, intellect, and integrity to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This important court is often called the Nation’s second-highest court, and it stands more than a quarter vacant. I remain deeply disappointed that a minority of the United States Senate blocked Ms. Halligan’s nomination last year and urge her reconsideration, especially given her broad bipartisan support from the legal and law enforcement communities. Mr. Srinivasan will be a trailblazer and, like Ms. Halligan, will serve the court with distinction and excellence."
Caitlin Halligan was originally appointed to this post on September 29, 2010 and was resubmitted on January 5, 2011 after all pending nominations were returned to the President at the end of the 11th congress. On December 6, 2011 the Senate voted 54-45 in a cloture vote on Halligan's nomination. This result was 6 votes shy of the 60 needed to break a filibuster. The only Republican to vote in support of ending the filibuster Senator Lisa Murkowski who said that judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote except in extraordinary circumstances.  Halligan's nomination was summarily returned to the President. Halligan received her undergraduate degree from Princeton in 1988 and her J.D. from Georgetown Law School in 1995.  She is currently a private practice attorney, but has served as the Deputy Solicitor General and Solicitor General of New York. She was rated Unanimously Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.
Srikanth Srinivasan is currently the Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He attended Stanford University graduating with honors in 1989 with a B.A.. He went on to attend Law school at his alma mater earning his J.D. in 1995, graduating with distinction. He received a joint M.B.A. in 1995 from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. As an Assistant to the Solicitor General, Srinvasan earned the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering U.S. National Security in 2003 and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence in 2005. He left for private practice in 2007 and rejoined the Solicitor's office at his current post in August 2011. 
If confirmed, the posts would fill two of the three vacancies on the court of eleven. The current vacancy warning level of the court is set at Orange.
Northern District of California
Barack Obama nominated William Orrick III and Jon S. Tigar to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to fill the vacancies left by Charles Breyer and Saundra Armstrong respectively. Obama commented on the nomination, stating "I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench. They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court." 
Jon S. Tigar currently serves as a judge on the Alameda County Superior Court in California. He has also served as a private practice attorney and public defender. He attended Williams College earning his B.A. in 1984. He went on to earn his J.D. four years later at the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.
William Orrick III is currently the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. Before public service in the Justice Department, Orrick was a private practice attorney in California. Orrick graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Yale in 1976. He went on to attend the Boston College Law School, earning his J.D. cum laude in 1979. 
If confirmed, the appointments will fill two of the three vacancies on the court of fifteen. The current vacancy warning level is set at Yellow and there are no other pending appointments.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 112th Congress Confirmations
- ↑ United States Periodic Press Gallery
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 112th Congress Nomination Materials
- ↑ United States Periodic Press Gallery
- ↑ Judge Shea's Biography at the Federal Judicial Center
- ↑ Judge Benson Legg Biography at the Federal Judicial Center
- ↑ Judge Marianne Battani's Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
- ↑ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate" 6/11/2012
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 "President Obama Nominates Two to Serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit" 6/11/2012
- ↑ Associated Press "Republicans block Obama appellate court nominee", December 6, 2011
- ↑ The New York Times, "Vance Deputy Nominated to Be Federal Appellate Judge," September 29, 2010
- ↑ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate" 6/11/2012
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 "President Obama Nominates Two to Serve on the US District Court" 6/11/2012
|This article was written by Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod, an Assistant Staff Writer for the Federal Courts Project on Judgepedia. He can be reached at joshua.meyer-gutbrod.|