When President Donald J. Trump walked into his Oval Office on Jan. 20, 2017, he inherited 108 federal judicial vacancies. A key accomplishment during his first four years as President has been the filling of America’s courts with many conservative Constitutional jurists.
As of Dec. 1, 2020, there were 53 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 6%.
Three of those vacancies were on the U.S. Courts of Appeals, 49 were on U.S. District Courts, and one was on the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Whether Trump reclaims a presidency for a second term remains to be seen, but the number of federal judicial vacancies available on Inauguration Day 2021 will be dictated by the pace of confirmations in the U.S. Senate and the number of new vacancies.
There are currently four Article III nominees awaiting a Senate confirmation vote, four waiting for a Senate committee vote, and 20 waiting for a committee hearing as of Dec. 8.
Two judges are expected to assume senior status on Jan. 22 and 23. The best estimate is there will be somewhere between 23 and 53 judicial vacancies.
The midpoint of this range would be 38. Here are the historical vacancies of presidencies since Ronald Reagan:
George H.W. Bush 37
George W. Bush 84
One of President Trump’s most significant picks was in April 2020 when he selected U.S. District Judge Justin Walker for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Walker, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at 39, was youngest nominee for the D.C. Circuit in decades.
McConnell, from Kentucky, was particularly pleased as Walker is also from the Blue Grass state. Early on, Trump learned the key to Senate confirmation was to leverage good will with McConnell. Often, Trump would go to McConnell seeking input on available conservative jurists.
A week after Walker was confirmed in June, a final vacancy on the Circuit Courts, Trump’s 53rd confirmation, was filled when the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Cory Wilson, 49, for the 5th Circuit.
All Senate Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against him because of his stated opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
“When we depart this chamber today, there will not be a single Circuit Court vacancy anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years,” McConnell said after Wilson’s confirmation. “Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. It’s a victory for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself.”
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.