“There’s still a ways to go to get to what might be called full employment,” the Washington Post said in a news story, but “one small segment of the workforce is doing a bit better: the 179-member federal appellate bench.” The Post quoted the analysis of Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman.
On Jan. 1, 2009, before President Obama took office, there were 13 vacancies on the appeals courts, according to Hellman, an authority on the circuit courts. On Jan. 1, 2013, just as the president was starting his second term, there were 16 appellate vacancies.
There are now eight vacancies, and one nominee “will almost certainly be confirmed, leaving only seven vacancies,” Hellman says. So the vacancy rate will have been cut about in half, he notes, down to about 4 percent, with some of the decline attributable to the “nuclear option,” reducing filibusters on most nominees.