The Federal Judicial Vacancy Crisis and the Need for Diverse Appointments

As of January 13, 2014 there are 94 judicial vacancies with only 52 nominees pending. For many years legal professionals have been warning of a judicial vacancy crisis and to date there is no end is in sight. Currently Pennsylvania leads the way with ten vacancies, followed by Texas with seven and without any pending nominations. With so many vacancies this is the perfect opportunity to increase diversity within our courts. The face of our nation is changing and the face of our judiciary should reflect these changes.

The process for filling these vacancies on paper seems quite simple. The senators from each state screen and interview potential candidates in order to make recommendations to the President. The recommendation is given to the President who then nominates someone to fill the vacancy and this nomination is sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The judiciary committee then investigates the nominee and holds a hearing on the nominee. During this hearing witnesses can testify for and against the nominee. After the hearing the committee votes on the nomination and it then can be sent to the Senate for debate. Once the Senate debates the nomination, a majority vote is needed in order for the nomination to be approved. Although this process seems simple and standard, politics between the state’s Senators and the President have created big delays in filling these vacancies.

With the New Year come new opportunities to fill these vacancies. Congress can use this new year to begin filling these vacancies and provide much needed relief to our nation’s judicial system. Many of the current nominees come from diverse backgrounds and in turn this will help increase the diversity of our nation’s courts. Hopefully the recent approval of a few nominations by the Senate means that these vacancies are being placed as a high priority for Congress and the President.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.