Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Federal Courts of Appeals by Party of Appointing President

With the Senate’s confirmation yesterday of Paul Matey’s nomination to the Third Circuit, that court will become (or has become, if Matey has already been appointed) the first federal court of appeals to flip from a majority of Democratic appointees to a majority of Republican appointees. It will have seven Republican appointees, six Democratic appointees, and one pending vacancy.

The party-of-appointing-president metric is admittedly an imperfect proxy for judicial philosophy/ideology. Also, because the courts of appeals, apart from the occasional en banc matter, usually decide cases in panels of three judges, it generally doesn’t matter much whether a court that is roughly evenly divided has a majority of judges appointed by presidents of one party or the other.

But because there is interest in this metric, I figured I’d pass along the current numbers, as I calculate them (and with some noted adjustments), along with some other comments.

CA1: 2 R, 4 D

CA2: 4 R, 7 D, with two existing vacancies and one future vacancy (could become 6 R, 7 D)

CA3: 7 R, 6 D, 1 V

CA4: 6 R, 9 D*

CA5: 11 R, 5 D, 1 V

CA6: 10 R, 6 D**

CA7: 9 R, 2 D

CA8: 10 R, 1 D

CA9: 8 R, 16 D, 5 V (will become 12 R, 16 D, 1 V if/when pending nominees are confirmed)

CA10: 5 R, 7 D

CA11: 6 R, 6 D

CADC: 4 R, 7 D (I’m counting in Neomi Rao, who was confirmed today)

CAFedCir: 4 R, 8 D

* I’m counting Roger Gregory as a D. President Clinton recess-appointed Gregory to the court, and President George W. Bush, in an unrequited act of goodwill, then gave Gregory a lifetime appointment.

** I’m counting Helene White as a D. President Clinton originally nominated her, and Senate Democrats struck a package deal with President Bush that led him to appoint her.

Most Popular


A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: A Hostage Situation

‘It has to stop,” says Representative Ilhan Omar. No, it does not. Representative Omar, the Jew-hating Minnesota Democrat, is engaged in one of her usual games of misdirection, a pattern of hers that by now is familiar enough to be predicted: She says something outrageously stupid, offensive, ... Read More

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More