Welcome to the December 6th issue of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter on the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and other US judicial events
Happy Holidays, dear readers! For the sake of Auld Lang Syne, let’s get together one last time in 2021 to check out the latest on SCOTUS and federal justice. Let’s hit it, yeah?
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We #SCOTUS and so can you!
SCOTUS has not accepted any new cases since our November 30th issue.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 50 cases for the 2021-2022 term. SCOTUS dismissed four cases after they were accepted and removed one case from the dispute calendar after both parties reached an agreement. Nine cases still need to be scheduled for argument.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on five cases this week. Click here to find out more about the current term of office of SCOTUS.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
6th of December
During his tenure in October 2020, SCOTUS heard arguments in 62 cases. Click here to find out more about SCOTUS ‘previous tenure.
SCOTUS has not issued any rulings since our issue on November 30th.
So far the court has issued judgments in three cases. Two cases were decided without argument. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS published expert opinions in 1,062 cases, an average of between 70 and 90 decided cases per year.
The next SCOTUS dates
Here are the upcoming appointments for the court:
- Dec 6:
- SCOTUS will listen to arguments in two cases.
- SCOTUS will approve orders.
- December 7th: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- Dec 8th: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- December 10th: SCOTUS becomes a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the judges.
- December 13th: SCOTUS will approve orders.
Worth knowing about SCOTUS
Welcome back to another edition of Name That Court! Read the following description of a historic Supreme Court named after its chairman and select the court that you think is described.
The _____ judgment was short and important. It helped establish the rights of the president, states, law, and the judicial system. Decisions during the _____ court created the definition of ex post facto laws and clarified the rights of the president. The _____ Court of Justice added a stronger system of scrutiny and deliberation, and emphasized the importance of Congress by stating that the President had no power to change the Constitution.
- The Marshall Court
- The Jay Court
- The Jagdhof
- The Ellsworth Court
Pick an answer to find out!
The federal job census
The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and approvals in all US Article III federal courts for a one month period. The November report includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from November 2nd to December 1st.
- Job offers: From November 2nd to December 1st, two new judge posts became vacant. Of the 870 active judge posts under Article III in this report, 74 posts are vacant. Including the U.S. Federal Court of Justice and the United States Territorial Courts, 78 of the 890 active federal judicial posts are vacant.
- Nominations: From November 2nd to December 1st there were 11 new nominations.
- Confirmations: From November 2nd to December 1st there were no new confirmations.
Job posting for December 1, 2021
A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed overview of job vacancies at the federal courts, click here.
*Although the U.S. territorial courts are known as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are established by Article IV of the US Constitution. Click here for more info.
new job offers
Two judges have left their active status since the last vacancy posted on November 1st, creating permanent judge posts under Article III. The President appoints persons to fill judicial posts in accordance with Article III. Nominations require confirmation by the US Senate.
The following table shows the number of vacancies in the United States Appeals Courts from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date shown in the table.
Open positions in US District Courts
The following map shows the number of open positions in the U.S. District Courts as of December 1, 2021.
President Joe Biden (D) announced eleven new nominations since the November 2021 report.
Since taking office on January 20, 2021, Biden has announced 62 nominations for Article III judges. More information on the President’s judicial nominations can be found here.
There were no new confirmations in November.
As of January 2021, the Senate has approved 28 of President Biden’s judge candidates – 19 district judges and nine appeal judges.
The first confirmations came on June 8, 2021 when Julien Xavier Neals and Regina Rodriguez were confirmed in their respective courts.
Ketanji Brown Jackson was the first confirmed candidate to receive her judicial commission. The Senate ratified Jackson on June 14, 2021, and she was appointed on June 17.
Comparison of Article III Appointments over Time by the President (1981-present)
- By December 1 of their first year in office, presidents had made an average of 21 judge appointments.
- President Ronald Reagan made the most appointments at 30, while President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest appointments at 11.
- President Reagan’s 41 appointments were most in the first year. President Obama did the least at 13.
- President Donald Trump (R )’s 234 appointments are the most appointments in four years. President Reagan did the least over four years at 166.
Do you need judicial appointment, confirmation, and job posting on a daily basis? Click here for ongoing updates on the status of all federal justice nominees.
Or, keep an eye on this list for the latest information on federal judge nominations.
Spotlight: Presidential Nominations to Federal Courts
Hello dear readers! Put your hood on and pull on your frock coat as our ongoing journey through the history of federal justice now crosses the twentieth and nineteenth centuries! Today we visit the years between 1897 and 1901 and introduce the candidates for federal justice from President William McKinley (R).
During his tenure, the US Senate approved 35 of President McKinley’s judicial candidates. The Senate did not vote on four nominees.
Among the most notable appointees was a Supreme Court judge:
By the end of his first year in office, five of the candidates had been sustained by President McKinley. Four candidates were confirmed in the US District Courts, and one was confirmed in the US 9th District Court of Appeals.
We’ll be back next year on January 10th, 2022 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, give up!
Kate Carsella has compiled and edited this newsletter with contributions from Brittony Maag, Jace Lington and Sara Reynolds.