For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 8, 2002
Fact Sheet: the Crisis in America's Courts
Today, the Vice President will make remarks at the groundbreaking
ceremony for the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse Annex and will
discuss the judicial vacancy crisis.
The Crisis in America's Courts
America is facing a Judicial vacancy crisis
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist,
recently wrote that America's present judicial vacancy crisis is
There are currently 96 vacancies in the federal
courts. In the past, when there were between 50 and 80 open judicial
seats, Senator Leahy referred to the situation as a vacancy crisis.
The most egregious example is the 6th judicial circuit, Michigan,
Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, where 8 of the 16 seats are open.
(Bush has made nominations to fill 7 of the 8 vacant seats)
President Bush has acted decisively and nominated 98
individuals to serve as federal judges.
Despite President Bush's commitment to filling the vacancies
in the federal courts, there are more vacant seats today than there
were on January 20, 2001, when President Bush took office.
President Bush has nominated more judges and nominated them faster than
any President in history, almost 100 in his first year in office.
President Bush has out-nominated the past four Presidents. At the same
point in their administrations, President Clinton had nominated only 74
judges, former President Bush had nominated 46, and President Reagan
had nominated 59 judges.
President Bush's nominees are highly qualified and highly
The White House has nominated strong jurists who respect and
follow the law.
Of the nominees awaiting Senate action, the
nominees who have been given a rating by the American Bar Association
have all received "qualified" or "well qualified" ratings by the
American Bar Association. The ABA rating has been called the Gold
Standard by Democrats like Senator Leahy.
The White House has
worked with both Republicans and Democrats to identify qualified and
experienced individuals to serve on the bench.
The Senate has failed to do its part
The Senate has confirmed only 42 of the President's 98
nominees, for a confirmation rate of less than 43%. At this point in
the Clinton administration, 57% of his nominees had been confirmed.
Most concerning, only 7 of the President's 29 nominees to the
circuit courts, the courts of last resort in most cases, have been
President Bush nominated his first slate of judges at
the White House almost a year ago on May 9, 2001. Of those 11 circuit
court nominees, only three have been confirmed today.
Nominees deserve to be treated fairly and should be considered
President Bush has said that it is time to rise above the
bitterness of the past and provide fair hearings and prompt votes to
all nominees, no matter who controls the Senate and who controls the
In the end, it is only the American people who
suffer. By failing to confirm justice, the Democrats in the Senate are
standing in the way of the pursuit of justice.