Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Judicial Nominations Update

It was another eventful week on the judicial nominations front. The Senate confirmed two judicial nominees (Greg Katsas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Dabney Friedrich to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), bringing the total number of federal judicial nominees confirmed this year to sixteen. Nevertheless, with two additional vacancies announced this week, the number of current and known future vacancies remains steady at 161.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for David Stras, nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, and Kyle Duncan, nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After initially refusing to return a positive blue slip for Mr. Duncan, last night Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana announced that he plans “to vote in favor of [Mr. Duncan] and look[s] forward to welcoming him home to Louisiana.” I applaud Senator Kennedy’s decision to support this outstanding nominee.

Finally, at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s mark up yesterday, Senator Dianne Feinstein requested that L. Steven Grasz, nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, be held over one additional week so that she could consider additional information about Mr. Grasz’s ABA rating. According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Mr. Grasz has submitted follow-up materials that “appear to indicate that the ABA relied on faulty information in their evaluation of him.”

Here is this week’s full update on federal judicial nominations.

Number of total current and known future vacancies: 161

Courts of Appeals: 23

District/Specialty Courts*: 138

Number of pending nominees for current and known future vacancies: 46

Courts of Appeals: 9

District/Specialty Courts: 37

*Includes the Court of Federal Claims and the International Trade Court

Nominees Awaiting Floor Votes: 18

Courts of Appeals: 0

District/Specialty Courts: 18

Nominees Confirmed by the Senate: 16

Supreme Court: 1

Courts of Appeals: 9

District/Specialty Courts: 6

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