Map & Data Resources

Updated judicial vacancies tool: big reduction in median time to Senate action

Map & Data Resources | By Meade KlingensmithMike Alberti |

Oct. 16, 2013 — Remapping Debate has updated three tools by which to explore the scope of federal judicial court vacancies and to assess who is responsible for the increasing delay between the occurence of a vacancy and the filling of a seat. Make sure to continue to page two to see our analysis of median time to nomination and median time from nomination to Senate action, comparing the first term of George W. Bush with the first term of Barack Obama, and also presenting similar data for current judicial vacancies. On page three, we have a chart identifying the median number of vacancies during each year from 2001 to the present.

Directly below, we have a comprehensive table on all judicial vacancies that have occurred from 2001 to the present. You can filter these by judicial circuit and by court. You can choose to look at current vacancies or prior vacancies and choose the period of time for which you want to examine vacancies. You can filter vacancies by how long they went without a nomination, by how long a nominee was pending before the Senate, or both. (Unfortunately, the table does not allow for sorting by column.)

You will notice that, for some vacancies, there are multiple nominees listed. That occurs when either nominee is withdrawn in the face of Senate inaction during a Congressional term, or where a nominee that the Senate has not acted upon by the end of Cogressional term is not renominated in the subsequent term. In both cases, we list the “action” as “withdrawn.”

For any nominee after the first nominee for a vacancy, we list the “date of vacancy” as the same date as the one on which the previous nominee was withdrawn.

It is important to note that, for calculating times in the multiple nominee circumstance, you must (yourself) add together “days vacant” and “days pending before Senate” for each of the nominees.

The “days vacant” and “days pending” information will automatically update each day, but the status or “action” column is current only as of the dateline above. We will update again early in January.

The data presented were gathered from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and from the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Additional note: In a small number of cases, a nomination may have been made before a vacancy formally existed or a nominee may even have been confirmed prior to the vacancy formally existing. In such instances, we treat the “days vacant” or “days pending” number as zero.

Click here for a key to the codes used to describe each court.




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