Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 11/9/2011
- 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 and is unchanged from last week. There was one additional confirmation at the appellate level and two additional confirmations at the district level. The final tally leaves 79 vacancies or approximately 9.1% of the total Article III posts currently unfilled. This represents the lowest number of vacancies since our study has begun. 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||8.9% or 16 vacancies|
|District Courts00ccff||9.3% or 63 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. There are currently 53 pending appointments in the Senate leaving 35% of the vacant posts without an appointment. So far this year there have been 54 confirmations.
On November 8, 2011 the United States Senate confirmed Evan Wallach to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with a vote of 99-0. Wallach was originally appointed on July 28, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Arthur Gajarsa upon his transition to senior status. At the time of appointment, he was serving on the United States Court of International Trade after an appointment from Bill Clinton. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee on September 7, 2011 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. His confirmation fills one of two vacancies on the court, lowering the vacancy warning level from Yellow to Blue.
District of Delaware
On November 3, 2011 the Senate confirmed Richard Andrews to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware with a vote of 96-0. Andrews was originally appointed on May 11, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Joseph Farnan on July 31, 2010. Andrews was rated "Well Qualified" by the substantial majority of the American Bar Association and "Qualified" by the minority. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee on July 13, 2011 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. His confirmation fills the only vacancy on the court, lowering the vacancy warning level from Yellow to Green. His confirmation marks the first time in 5 years that the court has had the full compliment of federal judges and magistrate judges. 
District of Wyoming
On November 3, 2011 the Senate also confirmed Scott W. Skavdahl to the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming with a voice vote. Skavdahl was originally appointed on February 16, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by William F. Downes. Skavdahl was a magistrate judge for the court at the time of appointment. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee on July 13, 2011 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. His confirmation fills the only vacancy on the court, lowering the vacancy warning level from Orange to Green.
There were no new vacancies in the past week.
On November 2, 2011 Barack Obama nominated Andrew Hurwitz to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to fill the seat vacated by Mary M. Schroeder. Hurwitz currently serves on the Arizona Supreme Court as the Vice Chief Justice. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "Justice Hurwitz has proven himself to be not only a first-rate legal mind but a faithful public servant. It is with full confidence in his ability, integrity, and independence that I nominate him to the bench of the United States Court of Appeals." The appointment would fill one of four vacancies on the court of twenty-four. There are three other pending appointments to the court.
Eastern District of Arkansas
On November 2, 2011 Barack Obama nominated Kristine Gerhard Baker to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to fill the seat vacated by James M. Moody. Baker is a partner in the law firm, Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow PLLC. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "I am proud to nominate Kristine Gerhard Baker to serve on the United States District Court. I am confident she will serve on the federal bench with distinction." The appointment would fill the only vacancy on the court of four.
- 112th Congress Confirmation Materials
- 112th Congress Nomination Materials
- Delaware Online, "Senate confirms district judge, ending court's five-year vacancy" 11/4/2011
- "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate" 11/2/2011
- "President Obama Nominates Justice Andrew David Hurwitz to Serve on the United States Court of Appeals" 11/2/2011
- "President Obama Nominates Kristine Gerhard Baker to United States District Court" 11/2/2011