The Unexpected Opportunity – Assessing the Landscape of Judicial Vacancies

While the Georgia runoff still awaits, as of the writing of this article, Democrats have defied political history and maintained their razor-thin Senate majority past the midterm elections. With the loss of the House, Democrats are unlikely to pass transformative legislation in the next two years, freeing the Senate to prioritize nominations (where the House has no role). Court watchers will likely welcome this, as, despite historic successes with their razor-thin majority, the Biden Administration has little time to rest if it intends to fill a sizeable proportion of the 100+ lower court vacancies currently pending in the federal judiciary. Currently, there are sixteen circuit court vacancies and ninety-seven district court vacancies pending (including seats announced to be vacated but currently still full). In comparison, 56 judicial nominees are currently before the senate, twelve to circuit courts and 44 to district courts. As the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats turn to nominations and confirmations, it’s useful to look again at the current landscape.

As a reminder, the process for choosing circuit and district court nominees is fairly different. After the practice of requiring blue slips for appellate nominees was terminated during the Trump Administration, the Administration is under no obligation to secure pre-approval from home state senators before the nominee can receive a hearing. However, in practice, the Administration is still incentivized to consult with home state senators, which can slow down the nomination process, particularly in states with Republican senators.

Unlike circuit court vacancies, district court seats still require home state approval in order to be confirmed. This means that the ball is largely in the senators’ court in terms of naming nominees. This doesn’t mean that the Administration is completely absent from the process. It is still responsible for prodding senators, negotiating agreements, and choosing the right candidate. In fact, the Administration started right off the gate with an announcement that it expected recommendations for vacancies within 90 days of the announcement. This makes it all the more surprising the sheer number of district court seats that sit without nominees today.

This split is less surprising in states that only have Republican Senators, a group which includes thirty-five district court vacancies without nominees: six in Florida; five in Texas; three in Indiana and Louisiana; two each in Alabama, Missouri and Oklahoma; and one each in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Many of the home state senators in these states have been fairly open about their unwillingness to work with the Administration on a nominee. However, others have been more willing to be involved, with Iowa senators, for example, recommending U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Locher, a young Democrat, to the bench (Locher was swiftly and unanimously confirmed). The lone district court nominee in a 2-Republican state is also the most recent, Scott Colom in Mississippi.

Similarly, in states with split delegations, the White House understandably needs to move with the support of home state Republican senators. It has had mixed luck in the states it has tried this with. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman returned blue slips for three nominees who were confirmed (one more remains pending). Similarly, the White House was able to reach a four nominee deal with Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania that included a nominee of his choice. In contrast, Sen. Ron Johnson has chosen to block a nominee that he previously signed off on.

Perhaps the most surprising in terms of vacancies without nominees are blue states or territories, where Democratic senators would presumably be incentivized to send recommendations quickly: yet, sixteen district court vacancies from blue states are nomineeless today, including four from California, three from New Jersey, two each from Connecticut, Illinois, and Michigan, and one each from Colorado, Maryland, and New York. A summary of this landscape follows:

D.C. Circuit – 1 vacancy out of 11 judgeships (one nominee pending)

The so-called “second highest court in the land”, the D.C. Circuit was the site of Biden’s first appointee when Jackson was confirmed to the court last June, a mere two months after her nomination. However, since that haste, a second vacancy languished for more than a year, taking nearly nine months after Judge David Tatel announced his departure from active status before Judge Michelle Childs was nominated, and taking Childs eight months to be confirmed. Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court reopened another vacancy, and the White House moved more quickly, elevating U.S. District Judge Florence Pan (confirmed in September). A fourth nominee, Brad Garcia remains pending on the Senate floor to fill the last remaining vacancy on the court, vacated by Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers.

The only district court that reports to the D.C. Circuit is the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The 15-judgeship court has one current vacancy, from Pan’s elevation, and one future vacancy, with Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly taking senior status upon confirmation of a successor. Nominees are pending for both vacancies with Ana Reyes currently awaiting a floor vote and Judge Todd Edelman having received a Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

First Circuit – 2 vacancies out of 6 judgeships (one nominee pending)

The smallest court of appeals in the country was also the sole geographically-based court not to see a single Trump appointment. Biden has already named Judge Gustavo Gelpi and Public Defender Lara Montecalvo to the court. Additionally, reproductive rights attorney Julie Rikelman is pending a vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee to replace Judge Sandra Lynch. The final seat, based in New Hampshire, was vacated by Judge Jeffrey Howard nearly nine months ago, and lacks a nominee. Given that New Hampshire has two Democratic senators, the lack of a nominee is puzzling.

The district courts covered by the First Circuit have five pending judicial vacancies, all of which have nominees. The District of Massachusetts has three current vacancies and three nominees pending, two of whom already have hearings.

The District Court for the District of Puerto Rico is down two judges, with nominees to fill the seats already on the Senate floor. A final Senate vote on Judge Camille Velez-Rive is expected next week, which should leave Judge Gina Mendez-Miro as the sole pending P.R. nominee.

Second Circuit – 1 vacancy out of 13 judgeships (one nominee pending)

Having replaced five left-leaning judges on the Second Circuit, the Biden Administration has already had a significant impact on the court. However, Justice Maria Araujo Kahn, nominated to replace 81-year-old conservative Jose Cabranes, remains pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee and has a long line of nominees ahead of her to be confirmed.

Connecticut, which saw three Biden appointees hit the bench last year, is one of the worse blue states when it comes to nomineeless vacancies, with two of the eight active judgeships vacant and no nominees on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the district courts in New York are also shortstaffed, with nine vacancies among them. The hardest hit is the Eastern District of New York, which has four vacancies out of sixteen judgeships, The bright side for the White House is that eight of the nine vacancies have nominees pending. The down side is that only three of the nominees are currently on the Senate floor (with one, Anne Nardacci, expected to be confirmed next week). Two of the longer pending nominees, Southern District of New York picks Dale Ho and Jessica Clarke, are currently bottled up in Committee, pending a discharge vote. Three more await hearings.

Third Circuit – 2 vacancies out of 14 judgeships (two nominees pending)

This moderate court currently has one Biden nominee confirmed (Arianna Freeman nominated to replace Judge Theodore McKee) but Judges Thomas Ambro and Brooks Smith don’t have replacements yet although nominees are pending on the Senate floor for both seats and should, if prioritized, be confirmed easily.

Two of the three states covered by the Third Circuit have judicial vacancies. The biggest number are in Pennsylvania, which has seven vacancies, four of which have nominees, the aforementioned four nominee deal. With Democrat John Fetterman replacing Toomey, it is likely that new recommendations will be sent out for the remaining vacancies and they will likely not be confirmed in the next few months.

The District of New Jersey, vacancy-ridden when the Biden Administration came to office, is now down to three seats left to fill. However, none of the three vacancies have nominees pending even though the oldest dates back seven months. With control of the Senate solidified, it is likely that New Jersey will see new district court nominees shortly.

Fourth Circuit – 2 vacancies out of 15 judgeships (one nominee pending)

The Fourth Circuit currently has vacancies out of South Carolina and Maryland. Judge DeAndrea Benjamin, nominated to the South Carolina seat, has home state senator support and will likely be confirmed easily in the new Congress. However, the bigger surprise is that a Maryland vacancy announced last December still lacks a nominee. Maryland’s Democratic senators have a mixed record in the speed of recommendations and a district court vacancy in the state announced last year also lacks a nominee.

In other states, Virginia has two nominees pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a final vote. Their confirmations would fill all the remaining vacancies on the state’s district courts.

Additional vacancies exist in North Carolina and South Carolina. Both North Carolina and South Carolina have two Republican senators, so any nominee will largely depend on the White House’s negotiations.

Fifth Circuit – 2 vacancies out of 17 judgeships (one nominees pending)

The ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit became even more so when the youngest Democrat on the Fifth Circuit, Judge Gregg Costa, unexpectedly announced his resignation from the bench. Nine months after Costa’s announcement, there is still no nominee pending to replace him, although Judge Dana Douglas, nominated to replace Octogenarian liberal James Dennis, is poised for confirmation after bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee.

On the district court level, both Louisiana and Texas have multiple district court vacancies and no hint of any nominee. Mississippi, on the other hand, despite having only one vacancy, does have a nominee: Scott Colom. While Mississippi senators have not yet announced support for Colom, they have not expressed opposition either, suggesting that Colom might be, surprisingly, on track for confirmation.

Sixth Circuit – 1 vacancies out of 16 judgeships (one nominee pending)

Of the three vacancies on the Sixth Circuit that opened in the Biden Administration, only the Ohio based seat of Judge R. Guy Cole remains open. Rachel Bloomekatz, nominated to replace Cole, is awaiting a discharge vote in the Judiciary Committee. It remains to be seen if Sen. Sherrod Brown will push for Bloomekatz to receive a final Senate vote by the end of the year.

On the district court level, each of the four states under the Sixth Circuit have vacancies pending. After the White House’s proposal to nominate conservative lawyer Chad Meredith to the Eastern District of Kentucky fell through, there remains no nominee to replace Judge Karen Caldwell, although Caldwell has reaffirmed that she will only leave the bench if a conservative is appointed to replace her.

The Eastern District of Michigan has four pending vacancies and two nominees (one on the Senate floor). Michigan’s Democratic senators have been relatively slow in naming nominees, so it’s unclear when nominees will hit the Senate for the remaining vacancies.

The Southern District of Ohio has a single vacancy, with a nominee, Jeffery Hopkins, pending a Judiciary Committee vote. With Sen. Rob Portman set to be replaced by J.D. Vance, it is possible that Democrats will prioritize Hopkins in an effort to fill the seat before Vance’s input is needed.

Finally, a vacancy is pending on the Western District of Tennessee. The White House and Tennessee Senators battled over the Sixth Circuit nomination of Andre Mathis, and while the White House ultimately won confirmation, other seats could become casualties. Nonetheless, the White House has put forward U.S. Attorney nominees with senatorial support in the state, suggesting that some common ground can be reached to fill the vacancy.

Seventh Circuit – 2 vacancies out of 11 judgeships (one nominee pending)

In addition to naming Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi and Judge John Lee to the Seventh Circuit, Biden has the chance to add two more judges to the court. Judge Doris Pryor, currently pending on the senate floor, is likely to be confirmed before the end of the year. However, the second vacancy, opened by Judge Michael Kanne’s death, lacks a nominee. Given the support Indiana’s Republican Senators gave to Pryor, the White House is likely to grant them deference in turn in cchoosing a nominee to replace Kanne.

On the district court level, Illinois nominees Lindsay Jenkins and Colleen Lawless are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Northern District of Illinois has two more vacancies that are likely to get nominees shortly.

Meanwhile, three vacancies are pending in Indiana without nominees. It is likely that the White House may lump these nominees into a package with the Kanne seat to allow for all the seats to be filled at once.

Wisconsin is likely a sign of frustration for the White House as Senator Ron Johnson has now blocked both a federal judge nominee and a U.S. Attorney nominee that he previously signed off on. With Johnson’s narrow re-election, it is likely that the nomination of Judge William Pocan is dead, and the White House and senators will have to renegotiate a new nominee to replace Judge William Griesbach.

Eighth Circuit 0 vacancies out of 11 judgeships

While the Eighth Circuit remains the sole court of appeals not to see a vacancy open under Biden, there are a number of vacancies open in the district courts covered under the Circuit, including one each in Arkansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and two pending in Missouri. Of these, only the seat in Minnesota has a nominee (Jerry Blackwell, who is awaiting a floor vote). Of the remaining vacancies, the White House has failed to nominate any U.S. Attorneys in those states, boding poorly for the likelihood of any agreement on judicial nominees.

Ninth Circuit – 1 vacancies out of 29 judgeships (one nominee pending)

Compared to other courts of appeals, the White House has had comparative success in confirming judges to the Ninth Circuit, naming six, with a seventh pending a judiciary committee vote. The district courts covered by the Ninth Circuit were equally successful for the White House, which has already confirmed 19 judges to (compared 14 judges that the Trump Administration named over four years).

An additional 13 nominees are currently pending to fill 19 vacancies, eight in California, four in Washington, and one in Oregon. Of the seats needing nominees, four are in California (two on the Central District and two on the Southern District). Another two are in Alaska and Idaho respectively, which have two Republican senators apiece.

Tenth Circuit – 1 vacancy out of 12 judgeships (one nominee pending)

The Kansas seat vacated by Judge Mary Briscoe is the oldest appellate vacancy in the country. Judge Briscoe announced her move to senior status in January 2021, and a nominee, Jabari Wamble, was announced in August 2022. Wamble has yet to have a Committee hearing but could, in theory, be confirmed early next year.

Among the states covered by the Tenth Circuit, there are eight district court vacancies, out of which two have nominees. Five of the six nomineeless vacancies are in states with two Republican senators, with particularly long-pending vacancies in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah, in particular. Given the nomination of Wamble in Kansas and the successful confirmation of Trina Higgins to be U.S. Attorney in Utah, it is possible that the White House is able to reach an agreement with senators to fill the vacancies shortly.

Eleventh Circuit – 1 vacancy out of 12 judgeships (one nominee pending)

Judge Beverly Martin announced her retirement from the Eleventh Circuit in July, ultimately leaving the court in late September. The Biden Administration nominated civil rights attorney Nancy Abudu to the court in December, but then unwittingly delayed Abudu’s hearing by quixotically claiming that she was under Supreme Court consideration. While no serious observer believed that Abudu would be nominated to the Supreme Court, her consideration ensured that Abudu’s nomination would not be processed until a nominee was named. Furthermore, Abudu’s nomination proved deeply controversial and deadlocked in Committee, forcing a discharge vote that has yet to occur. Given the risk to Abudu’s nomination if Warnock were to lose, it is likely that Democrats would seek to prioritize her nomination if the runoff went poorly.

On the district court level, Alabama has two pending vacancies, one from the elevation of Judge Andrew Brasher in the Trump Administration, and the second from Judge Abdul Kallon’s untimely resignation. Both lack nominees as outgoing Republican senator Richard Shelby expressed his opposition to any left-of-center nominee. With Shelby’s retirement and the election of Katie Britt to the Senate, it remains to be seen if a package can be reached (it’s possible that Alabama senators may demand the renomination of Trump nominee Edmund LaCour.

Meanwhile, Florida has more nominee-less vacancies than any other state: six. Both Senator Marco Rubio and Florida’s Democratic House delegation recommended attorney Detra Shaw-Wilder (a Democrat) to the Southern District of Florida last year, but no nominee has hit the Senate yet. The recent announcements of U.S. Attorney nominees to two of the three open positions in Florida, however, could presage a thaw in negotiations over the state’s appointments.


On one side, one could argue that the Senate has plenty of time to fill these vacancies, as well as more that will inevitably open over the next two years. After all, despite a packed legislative calendar, the Senate has already confirmed eighty-five nominees (and will likely confirm more before the end of the Congress). However, it’s also important to recognize the fragility of the Democrat’s narrow majority. Just because 50 members held together over the last two years is no guarantee that it will last another two. In a sense, winning the Georgia runoff and securing a 51st seat will be all the more important for Democrats if they seek to rival Trump’s judicial legacy.


  1. 9 no’s on LaSalle, plus 32BJ against – it might actually be possible to stop this godawful nominee:

    Even if Republicans might support him, the anti-LaSalle campaign should put pressure should be on Hoylman and Stewart-Cousins to not even allow a vote on him if he requires Republican backing to get through. McConnell stopped plenty of federal court nominees that probably could’ve gotten through because they split the Republican caucus – NY Dems really need to grow a spine and do the same.

    The supportive statements Hochul put out means that this will be a challenge, but given how weak she is right now, Dems actually benefit from some distance from her (and have less to fear in terms of repercussions). I was meh but not actively opposed to Hochul during the midterm/before this nomination, but now I actively relish seeing her fail. I know I’m not the only one, so if this was about uniting NY Dems then it’s been a disaster for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep seeing people mention Locher as being a bad pick. As someone with connections to Iowa, I can assure you that he’s a Democrat. Probably not a firebrand progressive, but he’s definitely not one of Biden’s worst picks


    • Why is there only one replacement nominee for Calderon? Anyway, that’s what we get for not confirming her. If Biden and Schumer truly cared, they had plenty of time to confirm her but they didn’t. They care more about their vacation and joke of a work schedule.

      Bravo to Calderon. I applaud her for personally withdrawing her name after months of zero action after being voted out of committee. More judges should do that in response to the outright rudeness and lack of respect/professionalism of being nominated a year ago with not a care in the world of being confirmed.


      • Only one recommendation for ANY federal judicial vacancy should be unacceptable. That’s basically taking the president’s power away & the senator or commission picking the judges, which is not what the constitution says. Biden should demand at least 3 recommendations for all seats. And not like what the Virginia senators do, recommend two obviously bad choices that they know won’t be picked so the candidate they want will be selected by default.

        Either way it’s time for Biden to put his foot down. I’d even entertain a 70 year old for the DC Superior Court but not the DC Court if Appeals. Even though it’s a 15 year term, judges from that court should be young progressives so they can be considered for elevation to the DC district court or maybe even the DC Circuit one day. And to make matters worse, this recommendation is a GW Bush appointee. Can if he was part of a package deal, there simply has to be better choices even before taking age into consideration.


  3. What is going on with the DC Superior Court is a consequence of D.C. not being a state and of the nominees only having 15 year terms but still being subjected to Senate confirmation.
    As pointed out in the Washington Post, even if the Republicans hadn’t been obstructing many of these nominees, when given a chance to pick between life term judges or ones with 15 year terms, the Senate has understandably gone with the former but it leaves nominees like Tovah Calderon in the dust and is also why I suspect Anthony C. Epstein will be the nominee whether we like it or not.
    Just drives the point home on why D.C. should be a state.


  4. Anthony C. Epstein

    This is so bad that it’s hilarious.

    Please note, Epstein is NOT the only candidate recommended. Per the article, the candidates are Epstein “along with any other candidates previously recommended.” Those others would be from the batch Calderon was in. Whether or not those others would still want the job or are acceptable is a different question.
    Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Biden, an 80 year old president, nominates Epstein.

    What say you, @Frank, on this senior citizen nominee?

    Happy holidays!


    • I get it that Biden is 80. Honestly I’m not even that mad at him. I’m mad that a 70 year old nominee would even reach his desk to consider. Like who in The White House Counsel’s office is worse at their job then just about everybody on this blog would be to not realize 70 is too old, even for a 15 year term court. Hell 70 years old is too old for for Divorce Court.

      And who is on this commission in the first place? Are they put on there by Rep. Holmes? We need to start getting to the root of the problem. Let’s be honest, Biden is just not gonna push back in Democrat senators or Representatives. We need to stop the bad names from getting to his desk. These commissions like this one & the one in New York needs new members. I was part of the Demand Justice push to change the commission in Colorado after Regina Rodriguez was nominated & it worked. We got better nominees after her. That’s one way to prevent Democrat presidents from nominating 70 year old GW Bush appointees in places with no Republican senators.

      The post mid term has been a disaster so far when it comes to the judiciary.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Considering that Biden has made a point of nominating those from underrepresented legal backgrounds, I doubt that he will pick Epstein unless those other candidates are no longer interested in the seat. His age does not concern me, rather what is more disappointing about the recommendation that he is the same type of nominee already overrepresented on the judiciary.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Here are the original (or latest) nominees to that post, as it is already open for more than nine years, you may loose track:

      As you can see, Epstein was still recommended there, but nominated for the replacement of Fisher, out of six recommendations, three are already serving, so maybe Dequan’s nightmare with Epstein my become true, what I would also see as a horrible choice. But mocking the members of the DC Judicial Nomination Commission is unjust, because that’s a very unthankful job, because the WH is so slow in reacting, that they can often start from the beginning again, while other vacancies pile up.

      But as the WH is obviously picking from a pool, there are two remaining from the Glickman replacement, Tanisha Bell seems to be more likely than Clinton-Appointee Neal Kravitz, who is already 65 years old.

      From the recommendations for the Thompson replacement nobody has been nominated so far, Alice Wang would look nice, but that is already one and a half years old.


  5. I’ve been researching the new nominees. Monica Ramirez Almandani’s parents were immigrants from Mexico. I don’t know if Almadadani is her husband’s surname. There is another Monica Ramirez who is also a civil rights lawyer, she’s originally from Ohio.

    @Dequan, you need to make Ramirez Almandani’s picture a priority, she’s attractive.

    Marian Gaston listed as Marian Fitzgerald Gaston in some law-oriented websites, so it looks like Gaston is her married name.

    I haven’t found out much about Matthew Brookman, but I think he’s a Democrat. Back in 2010, then AG Eric Holder presented him with an award for superior service for his work as AUSA.


  6. Dale Ho was personally recommended by Schumer.
    Unless he chooses to withdraw, he’s going to get confirmed.
    Just wish it was to the 2nd Circuit instead of a district court seat, even if that seat IS among easily the most high profile district courts in the land.


      • I’ve tried to be patient with Frank’s comments, but cut the BS – there’s nothing “concerning” about Ho’s background to a Democratic senator. To the extent that Republican hacks may actually have to do actual legal work if their case ends up in front of him (unlike with Trump’s so-called “judges” in Texas), that’s exactly the type of judge Biden should be appointing.

        You’re right that any nominee that lacks the support of the Democratic caucus won’t be confirmed (something everyone on this site already knows), but his confirmation becomes more likely with a 51-seat majority in the Senate. I also agree that Republicans have tried to make him out to be more controversial, but I’m not seeing any public indications that there are 2 Democratic senators who would vote against him on the floor. Like it or not, your personal feelings about him (or any nominee) being too liberal are irrelevant to whether they will eventually be confirmed.


    • I don’t know if I agree that it’ll fail. Why wouldn’t Republicans vote for him?

      As I see it, Republicans have two options:
      Vote to save/confirm a conservative Dem-nominated judge
      Help Dems kill the nomination to give Hochul a humiliating first of a kind defeat.

      Personally, if I were a NY Republican senator, I would vote to confirm. Which would you choose?


  7. I don’t know if I agree that it’ll fail. Why wouldn’t Republicans vote for him?

    As I see it, Republicans have two options:
    Vote to save/confirm a conservative Dem-nominated judge
    Help Dems kill the nomination to give Hochul a humiliating first of a kind defeat.

    Personally, if I were a NY Republican senator, I would vote to confirm. Which would you choose?


    • I also think at least some Republicans could be convinced to save LaSalle’s nomination, but it’s hardly an easy call. Given how extreme Republicans are these days (they just nominated election-denying Trump lapdog Zeldin), saving a Democratic governor from a humiliating defeat would open them up to a primary challenge from their right. Hochul’s not loved among Democrats, but that’s nothing compared to Republican primary voters’ antipathy towards her – remember that the average voter doesn’t know or care about judicial nominations like we do, so “I voted for the Democrat nominee because he has a much more conservative judicial record than the other nominees she was considering” is a much harder sell than “I opposed Hochul and her radical socialist agenda every step of the way.” Republican state senators have much more to lose personally from voting yes than no on the LaSalle nomination, so let’s just hope that’s enough to keep them from saving the nominee.


  8. @Mitch

    Haaaaa… I actually clear my schedule for the SJC hearings so I can post the nominees pictures on Wikipedia. Monica Ramirez will definitely be amongst the firats when she has her hearing… Lol


    That’s a very good Goodgle Doc. I’m not familiar with New York state politics so that is very helpful to see where each senator stands.


    I certainly hope the New York Republicans would rather see a Hocul defeat then coalesce along with the moderate & crappy Democrats to provide Hocul the votes to confirm. I gotta be honest if the shoe was on the other foot, I would be calling my senators & SCREAMING at the top of my lungs to vote to confirm the moderate nominee. They would be awfully stupid to hand Hocul a defeat only to get a much more liberal chief justice in the end but if they are Trump Republicans it is very possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Now I understand why I can’t find the history of nomination votes. First, it’s voice vote. Second, per the rule, at least 5 senators have to request that the yays and nays be published:
    “A nomination shall not be confirmed without reference on the day on which it is received except by unanimous consent. The names of those who voted for or against the nomination may be entered alphabetically on the journal, if any five Senators request it.” —

    Here’s the vote for Shirley Troutman. The actual voice vote is at 49:10:

    I don’t know if this is the same procedure for controversial nominees. Imagine the US Senate voting on SCOTUS nominees this way haha.


  10. {Can confirm: This site doesn’t allow you to post comments with multiple links. I will have to break up my comments into two posts}

    Now I understand why I can’t find the history of nomination votes. First, it’s voice vote. Second, per the rule, at least 5 senators have to request that the yays and nays be published:
    “A nomination shall not be confirmed without reference on the day on which it is received except by unanimous consent. The names of those who voted for or against the nomination may be entered alphabetically on the journal, if any five Senators request it.” —


    • It may take a second Biden term for him to get 14 additional circuit court vacancies to surpass Trump’s 54. Trump inherited the Supreme Court vacancy, 86 district court vacancies and 17 circuit court vacancies. That’s almost as much as some presidents get in a term & that’s not counting the vacancies that occurred during his term. Biden will need another 4 years & a senate miracle in 2024 to surpass that.


  11. In state supreme court news…

    Oregon’s Kate Brown has appointed two more justices before she leaves office. Whatever you think of her (she’s very unpopular in Oregon), Brown has an enviable record of judicial appointments, including appointing the most supreme court justices in state history. Yes, some are old (near 60), but others are young, late 40s. If Schumer didn’t goof on confirming the remaining noncontroversial judicial nominees, including Justice Adrienne Nelson, Brown would have gotten a nineth pick, possibly putting her record out of reach for a long time.
    I am not familiar with the judicial philosophy of her appointees, but I hazard a guess that they are not the Cuomo-Hochul type. Brown is unpopular largely because of her very progressive record on criminal justice, so I doubt she’d stack Oregon’s courts with rightwing prosecutors.

    It’s now up to the incoming Dem governor to replace Adrienne Nelson when Schumer finally gets around to confirming her.

    Apropos — If I remember correctly, when Nelson was announced by Biden some on here wondered why a state supreme court justice would accept an appointment as a district court judge. There are probably many personal reasons that we cannot know.
    But we do know the salaries:
    Oregon Supreme Court Justices: ~$171k
    Federal District Court Judges: ~$223k


    • Very good job outgoing governor Kate Brown. I’m especially happy Phill Knight wasn’t able to buy a Republican into the governors seat to replace her. That would have been a hard pill to swallow in a deep blue state. Schumer likely would have expedited Nelson’s confirmation had the Republican won. At least I hope he would have been that strategic.

      I was one of the people surprised by a sitting state SCOTUS taking a federal district court judgeship. I could certainly see taking a circuit court seat but district court surprised me. I didn’t know about the 52k pay increase because in California I think it’s closer to 10 – 15k pay difference. Also most state SCOTUS are age limited so that could also play a part in the decision as of course federal judges are appointed for life. Either way let’s hope the incoming governor is better at picking judges then the past two New York governors, the two sitting US senators in New Jersey or one half of the US senators in California. I mean it would be really hard to be any worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I hadn’t seen this story posted about here, but Biden’s U.S. Attorney nominee to the Eastern District of Tennessee, Casey Arrowood, is being blocked by Mazie Hirono due to prosecuting an alleged Chinese spy. While anti-asian racism is definitely a real issue, these worries are completely unfounded and this is a rare area where I find agreement with senator Blackburn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you actually read the article, or are you just accepting Blackburn’s drivel at face value? Given that (1) the charge was not espionage but the failure to disclose employment at a Chinese university and (2) the professor was acquitted of that lesser charge (a rarity in the federal system since almost all criminal cases end up pleading out & the feds have the resources to build a good case), I’d hardly call Hirono’s concerns “completely unfounded.” I certainly wouldn’t trust anything coming from the likes of Blackburn. After her behavior during the Mathis confirmation process, the administration shouldn’t even waste a second of its time on what she thinks (if it were me, I’d go out of my way just to spite that nutjob).

      And it’s not as if Hirono is threatening to vote against the nomination (and it would get through even if she did) – I’m sure Biden will renominate the guy in a few weeks anyways, and I doubt Dems would actually burn floor time on a roll call vote for an AUSA. Hirono’s also no Sinema who causes problems for no reason, so my belief is that there’s more going on that wasn’t in the (Fox News) article. USAOs lack accountability as it is (especially in a conservative circuit like CA6), so if one of the only Asian senators thinks this is necessary to put them on notice about doing their job properly, then I’m all for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Along with the increase in salary, Nelson likely also looked at the fact that there won’t be any more worrying about retention elections or having to play nice to keep your job.
    She will be in one for life now.


    • @Zack Jones

      That’s a great point that I didn’t even think of in my response this morning. Some justices on state SCOTUS have to run for retention or reelection. While a justice is almost never removed (Last time I can think of is when California removed three liberal justices decades ago), why put yourself through the process if you can be a federal judge. As long as you don’t have to live (Oregon only has one district so it’s not an issue for her) then it’s a god move for Nelson.


    • The workload for a federal district court judge is much higher than any state Supreme Court though, so that arguably cancels out the salary bump. Judicial re-elections are also usually just a formality, especially for a Democrat in Oregon, so I’m still at least a little surprised that she took it (especially after being turned down for Oregon’s 9th Circuit seat that went to Jennifer Sung). Nelson was a state court trial judge before being elevated to the Oregon Supreme Court though, so maybe she doesn’t mind the extra work.


  14. This is a big one.
    If the Deputy Majority Leader is a no vote, it’s a sure sign Lasalle’s nomination is very likely to fail.
    I will say this.
    His defenders do have a point that a couple of the cases he ruled on are being distorted(especially on abortion) but overall his record is clear that he will be in the mold of the Republican hack who just left and that isn’t acceptable and if some folks don’t like it, tough.
    The era of having a conservative court in a blue state is over.


    • Oh WOW. That is a HUGE no vote. This would be similar to if Dick Durbin came out against a Biden nominee. As I’ve said before I can’t imagine New York Republicans being dumb enough to not give enough votes to make this confirmation happen but with the Deputy Majority Leader coming out as a no vote, I now see some possibility of stopping this confirmation from happening.

      Hopefully George Santos will keep the New York Republican party distracted enough not to smarten up & go to Hocul unified to save the nominee. She nis awful enough to take their votes just to not fall flat on her face & fail. Shame on Trish James for giving her endorsement for this nomination.


  15. Sounds like Graham will be ranking member on SJC in 2023

    “I can’t think of a system where Republicans get all their judges and Democrats get none of theirs,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who will be the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee next year. “That’s not a viable system.”


    • He says this knowing Democrats will have an outright majority and aren’t going to honor blue slips for Circuit Court nominees anymore and very well could pull the trigger on district court blue slips as well.
      To his other point, that’s a joke.
      We know what happened with Obama and SCOTUS but it’s important to remember that sans the SCOTUS seat, everything done to Obama on judicial obstruction was done to Clinton as well, which is why until Obama, Clinton had the record of having the most judicial nominees obstructed.
      Graham is saying what he’s saying because Democrats finally quit playing nice (most likely because Leahy wasn’t calling the shots anymore) and actually filled Circuit Court seats regardless of whether Republicans wanted them to or not.


      • It still angers me the number of Clinton nominees that were blocked in 99 & 2000, only for Democrats to confirm GW Bush nominees in 2007 & 2008 like it was going out of style. Then of course we know what happened to Obama’s nominees in 2015 & 2016 but even before then, 2009 was almost a complete wash save the Sotomayor confirmation.

        Clinton had two liberal Hispanic men blocked from the 5th circuit in Texas. Now the 5th circuit doesn’t have one Hispanic (Male or female) judge in the entire circuit. And if Black, Hispanic, LGBT & young voters didn’t come out to save the Democrats from near certain defeat in the midterms, the 5th circuit still wouldn’t have had a Hispanic judge because no circuit court judges would have been confirmed over the next two years without them either being conservative or part of a horrible package deal.

        Reading the article @Rick just sent gives me some hope that Democrats FINALLY get it when it comes to the judiciary. My faith has been a little shaken since the midterms. With no vote-a-rama, the SJC cancelling an executive meeting, the senate taking off until basically Valentine’s Day, governor Hocul picking somebody to the right of any red state Biden nominee to date & Biden’s 28th batch including an outright Republican for a seat in New Jersey, this wasn’t exactly post midterm bump I was expecting. Hopefully Ron Klein is taking his time with the 4-circuit court vacancies to get us some super star picks. And almost as important, hopefully by the time they all get their SJC hearings we will have more announced circuit court retirements.


  16. @ Dequan

    But didn’t many of Clinton’s 9th Circuit Court nominees get confirmed in 2000….I know several of them waited a long time, esp. Paez, but most were eventually confirmed..Were there some nominees who never got hearing and/or confirmation?…….Trent Lott ( I think he was majority leader at the time) was a moderate compared to the 2015-16 version of McConnell who only allowed the 2 Circuit court confirmations in Obama’s last 2 years….And one of those was for the Federal Circuit, which deals primarily in patent law disputes..

    I know Ronnie White was defeated for the District Court seat in MO, but was confirmed in 2014 during the one very good year for judicial confirmations under President Obama..


      • Look at some of the Bill Clinton circuit court nominees that were not confirmed & who we ended up with instead…

        Jorge Rangel & Enrique Moreno – Priscilla Richman
        Alston Johnson – Edith Brown Clement
        Elena Kagan – John Roberts
        James Lyons & Christine Arguello – Timothy Tymkovich
        Kent Markus – Jeffrey Sutton
        S. Elizabeth Gibson – Allyson K. Duncan


      • And in some other cases, the replacements that were confirmed under Clinton like Stanley Marcus and Richard Talman were conservative Republicans (part of the package deal to get Paez and others confirmed) who made sure to take senior status under Trump.
        It’s why when people talk about flips in some cases it’s inaccurate.
        Along with Marcus and Talman, Frank Hull, Richard Traxler, Julie Carnes (Leahy’s stupidity on blue slips again) were conservative judges Clinton/Obama had to nominate.
        No way they were going to allow Biden to replace them.
        It’s what makes Leahy’s stupidity under Obama all the more angering.
        Orrin Hatch under Clinton had made clear what Republicans would do with seats they obstructed if Republicans took control.
        What made him think McConnell was going to honor norms where Hatch didn’t?


      • That is true, you can’t just look at the president who appointed a judge & say for sure if they were liberal or conservative. I will say that in the not so distant future you probably will be able to do so, at least for SCOTUS & circuit court judges. It’s highly unlikely from Trump on you will see the David Souter type mistakes (From a Republican perspective) being made on the circuit courts or higher.

        Even on deals under a senate majority of the opposite party of the president, I just don’t know if you will see many of the same deals that got some of Carter’s liberal judges confirmed for out right racist. I can’t imagine a Democrat president putting 1 young anti-abortion conservative on the bench (Yes I know about Chad Meredith but at the end of the day he wasn’t nominated) for 2 liberal nominees or vice versus. I think both sides are too engaged & laser focused on the judiciary for those types of deals to be made in the future. I can for see seats simply remaining vacant.


  17. Yea..Lasalle’s done.
    Make no mistake, there will be plenty of takes on this but the part no one is saying out loud is how livid many Democrats are at what happened with redestricting.
    No way was someone in the mold of Janet Difiore going to get confirmed.


    • WOW… This would be great Judiciary news amongst an otherwise lackluster post midterm cycle. Imagine Cuomo being so bad at picking judges that his legacy leads to the withdrawal/rejection of a nominee from his successor. That’s truly historic.

      Hocul should be ashamed of herself for even putting this on the senate Democrats plate to do. I will say I’m happy it happened less than a month into her term. If this brush back gets her to take a step back from the proverbial plate of the run of the mill usual nominees & we finally get young progressives out of the state of New York as a result, it will be well worth the embarrassment of a piss poor governor. She will have 4 years to make up for this disaster of a pick.


      • I don’t think we are there yet.
        The senate MUST act on nominations (confirm or reject) within 30 days. If Hochul or Lasalle doesn’t withdraw, I think he will be confirmed thanks to Republican votes.
        The most strategic way to kill this nomination now is for a groundswell of senate Dems to *publicly* oppose it forcing Hochul’s hand. Hochul will have to weigh if she wants to be the Dem gov who relies on GOP votes to save her nominee? Or tries to save face by nominating the elderly lady instead.


      • Edwina Richardson-Mendelson would satisfy all & be a good pick with the exception of her age of course. But I doubt she will pick two Black woman in a row when she can make history in other ways with this vacancy. If she were smart (Which obviously I have my opinions on that) the best choice is Corey Stoughton. Not only is she the most progressive but I believe also the youngest of the recommendations.

        Jeffrey Oing wouldn’t exactly knock any progressive’s socks off but would be acceptable & also the first AAPI chief. Perhaps she will go with Abbe R. Gluck since a law professor will have less of a judicial record to pierce through. I hope she wouldn’t be dumb enough to consider Anthony Cannataro after this disaster of a pick.


  18. I will say this on Lasalle’s nomination.
    It’s going to fail due to a large coalition of groups, not just progressive ones so the new nominee might be in the mold of a Shirley Troutman, who is moderate but by no means what many folks here would want.
    Have to wait and see.


      • Nothing changed here – he said he was going senior (not retiring) on 12/5 and that’s still the case. He’s likely keeping a full caseload because there are 3 other district court vacancies in Louisiana and no nominees for any of them (though to be fair, those all arose in 2022). It’s not impossible that those vacancies might be filled (the LA senators did sign off on Douglas), but they’d likely be filled with centrist nominees that aren’t particularly exciting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I too think Cassidy & Kennedy will work in good faith to find consensus nominees. They will probably be in the mold of Dana Douglas, no flaming liberals but acceptable for both sides. I looked at all of Trump judges on the three district courts in Louisianna. Out of the 8 judges, only one was born later then 1970 so they didn’t put young conservatives on the bench like they could have. Even his two 5th circuit court judges were born in 1960 & 1972). And remember Kennedy not only voted against a couple Trump nominees but also sinked some in the SJC with his tough questioning. Cassidy voted to convict Trump so I think Biden can work with them to fill the four vacancies across the state.


    • The average age of the judges Eastern District of Louisiana is so high, I think there is none of this size, who is higher, the youngest judge is the actual chief judge with 59 years, so at least on of the the successors of Feldman, who died aged 87 years, or Barbier has to be a little younger to become chief.


  19. Bottom line on Hector Lasalle, you want him to withdraw his nomination rather then have it voted down because then the nomination process will start anew and the folks in charge of it will make darn sure there isn’t anyone even remotely progressive on it this time out of spite.
    Also, as I said before, the Lasalle defeat is going to be do to ALL parts of the Democratic party coming out strongly against him.
    There is no assurances that will be the case next time and folks need to be prepared that the nominee may not be as liberal as they’d like while still not as conservative as Lasalle is.


    • Stopping this nomination however (Withdrawal, rejection or rescind the nomination), is a short term win. The long term win would be the process that led to his nomination in the first place. Democrats really need to either change the people on the commission that recommends nominees or get rid of the commission altogether & let the governor just pick who they want. I am not familiar with New York law to know enough about how either or both can be done, but if a state with a Democrat governor, both US senators & a super majority in the state senate can’t make the needed changes, then the courts are a lost cause in the state anyway.


      • It would take a constitutional amendment to change, which I would support.
        There’s a state senator who introduces a resolution to change it from COA to supreme court in multiple legislative sessions. I hope he includes getting rid of the commission altogether as well.
        I think we can stop blaming Cuomo commissioners for this pick *because* we now know that Hocul’s commissioners wouldn’t be much better; she’s another version of him. She deserves opprobrium in her own right. This conservative-leaning commissioner didn’t give her just one name. It gave her a list that included about 3 solid progressives, with one recommended twice to her.

        Anyway, looking at how the commission is organized, you can understand how Laselle ended up on their list. Of the 12 commissioners, about 8 were appointed by Cuomo and DiFiore, and an additional commissioner each by the Republican minority leaders in both houses. Even though the Gov and Chief Judge appointees can’t be more than 2 Dems, those 2 Dems can be DiFiore-type. So the party restriction clause is meaningless in a world of DINOs.
        Here’s the language, if you care:

        1. A commission on judicial nomination is hereby established. The commission shall consist of twelve members of whom four shall be appointed by the governor, four by the chief judge of the court of appeals, and one each by the speaker of the assembly, the temporary president of the senate, the minority leader of the senate, and the minority leader of the assembly. Of the four members appointed by the governor, no more than two shall be enrolled in the same political party, two shall be members of the bar of the state, and two shall not be members of the bar of the state. Of the four members appointed by the chief judge of the court of appeals, no more than two shall be enrolled in the same political party, two shall be members of the bar of the state, and two shall not be members of the bar of the state. No member of the commission shall hold or have held any judicial office or hold any elected public office for which he receives compensation during his period of service, except that the governor and the chief judge may each appoint no more than one former judge or justice of the unified court system to such commission. No member of the commission shall hold any office in any political party. No member of the judicial nominating commission shall be eligible for appointment to judicial office in any court of the state during the member’s period of service or within one year thereafter. The members of the commission shall be residents of the state.


      • Thanks Gavi. That explains a lot. The commission definitely needs to be amended if not altogether abolished. And they definitely need to change the name of the highest court to the Supreme Court. I believe there’s only two states that don’t have their highest court with that name but I could be missing one or two.


  20. Yes there are issues with commission (largely because DiFiore stacked it with her lackeys that refused to include the liberal associate judges on the NYCOA now), but the blame still truly lies with Hochul – the commission’s list also recommended Abbe Gluck and Corey Stoughton, who would be good nominees for any judicial appointment (state or federal), and Hochul could have easily picked them.

    Dems can fix this problem by tossing Hochul out at the first opportunity (2026 at the latest, if not impeaching her before then) and actually running at least a mainstream liberal for NY Governor for once. What a shame that NY’s first female governor is turning out to be an incompetent old DINO.


  21. Ian Millhiser writes that Sotomayor and Kagan should retire in next 2 years….

    Probably not a bad idea if we’re being totally honest…The 2024 senate map is lousy for Democrats and 2026 isn’t much better….Probably 2 seats that would be competitive in 2026 (NC & ME)…And ME would only be if Susan Collins doesn’t seek reelection that year.


    • I don’t see the case for Kagan. She would be 64 at the end of Biden’s first term. Is the argument she should forgoe her lifetime salary just go to give Biden another pick on a 6-3 conservative court? At 64, she could easily serve 10 to 15 more years barring any unforeseen issues. If the Democrats can’t win the presidency & senate majority in the next 15 years, then the country will have a lot more things to worry about anyway.

      I do agree Sotomayor should give it heavy consideration however. She has been a federal judge for three decades, has diabetes & if she retired today would receive her full salary for the rest of her life. Also by the Summer of 2024 both Myrna Perez, Brad Garcia & hopefully whatever Hispanic is chosen for the 5th circuit vacancy will had been on the circuit court about as long as KBJ was when she was selected for SCOTUS.


    • Sotomayor I would also say yes because she is six years older, has had much more time on the federal bench, and is eligible for retirement already.

      Kagan is only 62 and of the two is more skilled at persuading fellow jurists (which matters a lot). I’d actually love to see Kagan as Chief Justice should Biden get the chance in the next six years (which is highly unlikely).


    • There is no doubt that Sotomayor should retire now – the fact that this is even up for debate shows that a lot of progressives have learned nothing from Ginsburg being replaced by Barrett. The hand-wringing about pushing a woman of color to retire before her time is ridiculous given that (1) she’s already at an age when any normal human being would retire (and Souter stepped down at around this age), (2) Biden would almost certainly fill her seat with another woman/person of color/both, and (3) the risk of a 7-2 majority is much higher with Sotomayor on SCOTUS for the next 8-10 years than it would be with Nathan, Perez, Garcia, etc. I truly do not understand how people aren’t getting this.

      I’m less concerned with whether Kagan will retire (and given how long it took Biden to fill on SCOTUS seat, he probably won’t get any other judges confirmed if he has to fill 2). This whole idea that she can have any influence by persuading other justices is nonsense when the conservatives have a 6-3 majority – even Kagan herself admits as much:


  22. If Sotomayor or Kagan retired, they both could take jobs as Law School dean or probably make a lot of money on speaking circuit if they so chose…

    And as you mentioned Dequan, Sotomayor has been judge for long time (District, Circuit, & SCOTUS) I think she more than satisfies the rule of 80 as it pertains to judicial status..

    On side note, I truly am looking forward to that first SJC Business Meeting in late Jan……There should be about 40 nominees on the schedule if we count all the nominees that already cleared SJC but never got confirmed as well as the 10 or so District Court nominees that never had the SJC hearing yet..I hope they do not hold everyone over, other than the nominees that never cleared the SJC yet

    Oh hey Dequan, on the pics for the nominees, why is there no pic for Tiffany Cartwright?….Also, she doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page like all the other nominees do…


    • I would actually like Durbin to split up the first SJC meeting with all circuit court nominees & the district court nominees that have waited the longest. That way we make sure Schumer confirms them first.

      We have spoken in length about the Wikipedia page for Tiffany Cartwright. You might have missed it. But basically, some idiot used Wikipedia lingo saying she is not “notable” to get her page deleted until she is confirmed. We have tried to get it reinstated but to no avail. So at this point, we will just have to wait until she is confirmed in February. But you can find the draft page with her picture on the link below.



      • Hey Dequan

        I vaguely remember talking about the missing pic for Tiffany Cartwright, but didn’t remember discussion about her Wikipedia page in general…

        But hopefully she will be confirmed in Feb 2023 , THAT is the important thing..

        And if Gould (WA based seat) would take senior status, his seat should be given to Tiffany or Lauren King….Any preference there you’d like to see for that seat?..
        As long as we don’t get a WA version of Michelle Childs, some late 50’s moderate!


      • Yea the short answer is in Wikipedia, you have to be “notable” to be a nominee to be a judge. Of course, that word is extremely vague. My, along with many others point was if the president of the United States nominates you to a lifetime position to one of the three branches of government, that automatically makes you notable.

        Unfortunately one user went out their way to say Tiffany was not notable. He got her page taken down & whenever any of us tried to add information to her page to make her “notable”, he quickly wrote in a disagreement. When we tried to use common sense that every other Biden nominee who has not yet been confirmed has an existing Wikipedia page, while Tiffany has already been given an SJC hearing & even voted to the floor, he just responded that others having a page has nothing to do with her not being notable.

        So basically, we figured whoever that user is probably has a personal problem with her because he has not tried to get any other page taken down. In Wikipedia, it’s hard to reverse a decision like this, even when common sense dictates it. So yes, we will have to wait for her to be confirmed at this point.

        As for if judge Gould were to retire, my first choice would be Jamal Whitehead. I believe Gould is the only active circuit court judge with a disclosed physical disability so replacing him with Jamal Whitehead would leave one on the circuit courts. Also, with only one Black man confirmed to the circuit courts since 2014 & one on the way, it would be nice to have a third in their 40’s in the event Justice Thomas retires so Biden could consider any of the three is he so choses to. But I would have absolutely no problem with Tiffany Cartwright, Lauren King or even Marsha Chien is they wanted to go with a non-sitting judge.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Have to be realistic on Kathy Hochul and the likely failed nomination of Hector Lasalle.

    I understand why Hochul felt like she had to pick Lasalle (tough on crime) but it’s still inexcusable and will rightfully be a mark on her record.

    Having said that, she is not going to be impeached over Lasalle and if she does face a primary challenge in 2026 and loses, it will likely not be at the hands of someone in the Bernie/AOC mode.

    This state while Democratic on a federal and state level isn’t as deep blue as people think it is on many issues, something that was born out with some of the seats we lost (crime was an issue here.)

    Also as I said before, yes progressives are rightfully opposed to this pick but opposition is coming from ALL parts of the Democratic party and the key reason (not being said out loud) is how livid folks still are over the redestricting ruling and how anyone who is viewed as being in the Janet DiFiore mold wasn’t going to fly as her replacement.

    When his nomination fails, folks can celebrate but also keep in mind it’s not likely Corey Stoughton will end up being named down the line.

    Edwina Richardson-Mendelson will likely be the front runner with Abbe Gluck as a possible dark horse down the line.

    Would love to be wrong on that though.


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