Remaking U.S. Courts to Begin Soon? More Judges Are Retiring

why-the-judicial-vacancy-crisis-should-matterREMAKING LOWER COURTS: Where are all the federal lower-court judges going? They’re retiring at a record rate, according to a Washington Examiner column by Paul Bedard, asserting this means the next president will “remake” our U.S. courts.

“At a rate of more than one a week, federal circuit and district judges are quitting full-time work and going on ‘senior status,’ which creates a bench vacancy but keeps them on the payroll to help with backlogs,” Bedard wrote.

Those judges taking “senior status” have hit a new high for the last three decades, the column added, with 56 circuit courts of appeal and district judges leaving this year compared to 38 in the final year of President George W. Bush’s administration. For more data about judicial vacancies and nominations, check out the website of our sister organization, Alliance for Justice.  

LEAHY ON SUPREME COURT VACANCY: In a Constitution Day essay for The Washington Times, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said there “is still time for the Senate to correct its course and consider Chief Judge [Merrick] Garland’s nomination” to the Supreme Court before that court convenes next month. “There should not be an empty seat on the bench when the Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October,” Leahy insisted. “If there is, it will represent the disrespect that Senate Republicans have not only for the president’s powers under the Constitution but for the independent judiciary that the Constitution created.” Leahy is senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Nonetheless, “Senate Republican leaders are sending a blunt message to Merrick Garland: You aren’t getting on the Supreme Court this year — not even if Hillary Clinton wins in November,” CNN reported, based on remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his chief deputy, Sen. John Cornyn.

NO MORE ‘GOLDEN WEEK’: The Supreme Court declined to restore a short period of in-person early voting known as Golden Week, when Ohioans could both register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day, according to The New York Times. As viewed by Mother Jones, “The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Blow to Voting Rights Advocates.”