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Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 4/18/2012

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April 18, 2012

By Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod

For a District by District break down, see: Federal Court Vacancy Warning System
FederalVacancy Blue.png

The current vacancy warning level for the U.S. District courts is set at Blue. There was one new vacancy this past week, leaving the final tally at 80 vacancies or approximately 9.2% 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 9% or 16 vacancies
District Courts 9.4% or 64 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.

Weekly map

The new weekly map feature will be updated every week and posted here and on the vacancy warning level analysis page.


New confirmations

There were no new confirmations this past week.

New vacancies

Southern District of New York

FederalVacancy yellow.png

On April 13, 2012, District Judge Deborah Batts assumed senior status for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after serving for 18 years. [1] Batts was originally appointed by Bill Clinton in May of 1994. She earned her degree from Radcliffe in 1969 and went on to earn her J.D. from Harvard. She is well known for upholding the New York state water bottle deposit and for holding the Wall Street Journal liable for racial bias for the termination of Carolyn Phillips. [2][3] Batts was also the first openly gay judge appointed to the bench. [4] Her transition to senior status will open up the sixth vacancy on the court of twenty-eight, leaving the vacancy warning level unchanged at Yellow.

New appointments

While there were no new appointments to the federal judiciary this past week, President Barack Obama did nominate one judge for an honor.

Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

President Barack Obama nominated Vicki Miles-LaGrange to the Board of Trustees of the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation on April 16, 2012. Miles-Lagrange is the Chief Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma and has served the court since her 1994 appointment. She was the first African-American federal judge in the Tenth Circuit.[5] According to the scholarships website:
"The mission of the Truman Scholarship Foundation is:
  • to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service; and
  • to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service."[6]

See also


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.