Adam Brown | Bloomberg Law In his December 31, 2010, Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John G. Roberts warned that some districts and judges were being "burdened with extraordinary caseloads" as a result of the U.S. Senate's failure to fill the growing number of federal judicial vacancies.1 In 2008 and 2009, the Senate confirmed a mere 44 district court, 16 circuit court, and two Supreme Court nominees.2 While the statistics show that President Barack Obama was not particularly aggressive in selecting nominees, the larger, more persistent problem is that the Senate's confirmation process has become increasingly politicized and contentious. As of the date of Justice Roberts's 2010 report, a total of 94 judgeships were vacant due in large part to the Senate's refusal to vote on President Obama's nominees.3 Despite Justice Roberts's pleas for a solution, 2011 saw the Senate continue to drag its feet in filling vacancies, which continue to hover near 10 percent of the total number of seats on the federal bench.4 Moreover, less than one half of these vacancies have a nominee pending before the Senate, a fact that all but guarantees that the vacancies crisis within the federal judiciary is likely to continue into 2012 and beyond.5 As case fillings continue to increase at the district court level, where the majority of vacancies exist, an already overburdened judicial system stands to become even more stressed if the status quo continues.
Vacancies by Circuit
Comparison to Historical Vacancies
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