Last we reported, while you were focused on the pandemic, Mitch McConnell kept moving judicial nominees through the Senate confirmation process, with an eye on filling every vacancy by November. If Republicans lose the presidency or the Senate, the ability to transform the judiciary for a generation will be lost notwithstanding substantial success in the first term confirming judges.

Appeals courts arguably are the most important because the Supreme Court takes so few cases, and Trump is about to run out of appeals court vacancies. CBS News reports:

Since February 11, the Senate has confirmed nine federal judges, bringing the total number of judges on the federal bench appointed by President Trump to 196.

Last week, the Senate voted to confirm three nominees to district courts and teed up votes on two more for after Memorial Day. The Senate Judiciary, meanwhile, has proceeded with the nominations of Cory Wilson to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justin Walker, tapped for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Once they’re confirmed, all of the vacancies on the 12 U.S. circuit courts of appeals will be filled. Mike Davis, head of The Article III Project, a judicial advocacy group, said he cannot recall a past president filling all vacancies on the regional circuit courts.

According to Carrie Severino’s count, here are the current vacancies (pending the votes next week):

Current and known future vacancies: 86

Courts of Appeals: 2

District/Specialty Courts*: 84

Pending nominees for current and known future vacancies: 49

Courts of Appeals: 2

District/Specialty Courts*: 47

All Nominees (via Judiciary Committee) Confirmed by the Senate since Inauguration Day: 202

Supreme Court: 2

Courts of Appeals: 51

District/Specialty Courts*: 149

What to do with the lack of any more Court of Appeals vacancies?

Lindsey Graham wants older conservative appeals court judges to take Senior Status, which allows them to continue to serve on a diminished basis, but creates a vacancy to be filled.

National Review reports:

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Senate judiciary committee chairman Lindsey Graham encourages originalist judges eligible for senior status to take it now so their successors may be confirmed before the November elections:

Graham: This is an historic opportunity. We’ve put over 200 federal judges on the bench. I think one in five federal judges are Trump appointees. If you can get four more years, I mean, it would change the judiciary for several generations. So if you’re a Circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center. This is a good time to do it.

Hewitt: If they are an originalist eligible right now and they are listening to Lindsey Graham, chairman, can you assure them that their successor will indeed be confirmed before the election?

Graham: Well, if you wait, you know, November the 1st, no. So do it now.

Hewitt: Do it now. Loud and clear.

 

 
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