For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 3, 2002
Fact Sheet: President Bush Calls on the Senate to Address the Vacancy Crisis in the Federal Courts
Policy in Focus: Judicial Nominations
TODAY'S PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
- President Bush commemorated Law Day by talking about the
important role that the federal judiciary plays in protecting our
rights and preserving our values. President Bush highlighted the
vacancy crisis that is currently facing the federal judiciary, and
called on the Senate to hold prompt hearings and votes on all his 100
BACKGROUND ON TODAY'S PRESIDENTIAL ACTION
- In the late 1950s, the American Bar Association instituted Law
Day, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day by
proclamation in 1958. Law Day draws attention to the principles and
practice of law and justice. It provides an opportunity for Americans
to reflect on our legal heritage, on the role of law, and on the rights
and duties that are the foundation of peace and prosperity.
- The Federal Judiciary is currently facing a vacancy crisis that
the Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist, recently
warned is "alarming."
- More than 10% of federal judgeships are presently vacant.
- The vacancy crisis is particularly severe in the 12 regional
Circuit Courts of Appeals where nearly 20% of the seats are vacant. In
many cases, these are the federal courts of last resort.
- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Ohio,
Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee is currently half empty with only 8 of
16 seats occupied. The D.C. Circuit, which often handles some of the
most important federal cases, is currently one-third empty with only 8
of 12 seats occupied.
- Judges help ensure that the innocent remain free and the guilty
are punished. Judges make decisions that help safeguard the stability
of the marketplace and address the grievances of those who have been
wronged. Because of the number of vacancies in our Nation's courts,
Americans are being forced to wait for justice, and the burden on
sitting federal judges is growing heavier.
- President Bush has addressed the vacancy crisis by nominating
100 individuals to serve as federal judges. The first 11 of these
nominees were submitted to the Senate almost one year ago on May 9,
- The President's nominees are men and women of distinction and
accomplishment. They are solidly within the mainstream of American
legal opinion, and they share a principled commitment to follow the
law, not legislate from the bench.
- All pending nominees thus far have received either a
well-qualified or qualified rating from the American Bar Association,
which Senate Democrats have termed the "Gold Standard."
- The Senate has failed to do its part to address the vacancy
- The Senate has confirmed only about half of the President's
nominees, and only 9 of the President's 30 circuit court nominees.
- Of the President's first 11 nominees, submitted to the Senate
on May 9, 2001, only three have even received hearings by the Senate