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.

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