MADISON, Wis., May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite three federal district court confirmations in the past week, the vacancy rate for Article III federal judicial posts remains at 9.9%, according to Federal Courts, Empty Benches, a weekly publication of Judgepedia.org.
The 9.9% vacancy rate means that 86 of 868 total posts are currently unfilled. Article III judges are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.
Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod, who publishes the Federal Court Vacancy Tracker every Wednesday, says the concern with judicial vacancies is that judges become over-burdened with caseloads. Two federal district courts -- one in Wisconsin and one in Pennsylvania -- have 50% vacancy rates. Judges in these courts are dealing with a caseload designed for twice as many judges, notes Meyer-Gutbrod.
These struggling districts are the Western District of Wisconsin and the Middle District of Pennsylvania. While the Western District of Wisconsin only has two federal judicial appointments, one of those posts has been vacant for over two years.
According to Meyer-Gutbrod, President Obama appointed Louis Butler to fill the open post in Wisconsin on September 30, 2009. Butler's nomination has since been returned to the President three times, and is currently awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Three out of 6 judicial posts are currently vacant in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. This district has had a 50% vacancy rate since Thomas Vanaskie was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in April 2010. Despite the three vacant posts, Robert David Mariani is currently the only pending appointment in the district.
Article III judges receive lifetime appointments. Of the 86 federal vacancies, 49 posts are currently pending appointments in the Senate, meaning 44% of vacant seats have no appointment. 24 confirmations have occurred in 2011.
Judgepedia.org is an edited wiki-based website about America's courts and judges. It is sponsored by the non-profit, non-partisan Lucy Burns Institute (LBI) based in Madison, Wisconsin.
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