SERIES: Judicial Issues Forum | No. 28 of 30 « Previous | Next »

Feb 28

Past Event

Breaking the Judicial Nominations and Confirmations Logjam



  • Sluggish Judicial Confirmation Is Triumph of Ideology

    Thomas Mann: The Senate’s sluggish confirmation of federal judicial nominees illustrates the triumph of ideology and partisanship over institutional responsibility.

    Thomas E. Mann

  • No Innocent Parties in Judicial Confirmations

    Sarah Binder: There are no innocent parties when it comes to confirming judicial nominations for the federal bench; when it suits their purposes, both Senate Democrats and Republicans are guilty of doing it.

    Sarah A. Binder

  • Judicial Delays an Institutional Confrontation

    Benjamin Wittes: The long delays in securing Senate confirmations isn’t so much a partisan standoff as it is an institutional confrontation rooted in the power awarded to the judiciary.

    Benjamin Wittes

  • Courts along Borders Have Special Need for Judges

    W. Royal Furgeson, Jr., Senior U.S. District Judge: Courts along the borders have a special need for their judges. But little of the nation’s business in any sector gets done when there are so many vacancies on the federal bench.


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In his year-end report on the state of the judiciary, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. called for a long-term solution to filling judicial vacancies, reigniting debate on how to move beyond congressional gridlock on the selection of federal judges. Many say the judicial nominations and confirmations process is in crisis: of the 856 district and circuit judgeships, more than a 100 are currently unfilled as of mid-February, with almost half of those vacancies classified by the judiciary as “judicial emergencies.”

Vacancies have increased more under the current administration than under prior ones, especially on the district courts, but problems in the nomination and confirmation process have been developing over several decades. These trends raise a difficult question: What can and should be done to break the judicial appointments and confirmations logjam?

On February 28, the Brookings Institution and the Federal Bar Association hosted a Judicial Issues Forum on the judicial nominations and confirmations process and the prospects for its improvement. The first panel examined nomination and confirmation trends, as well as assess the impact of judicial vacancies on the courts. The second panel focused on prospects for change in this session of Congress and beyond, including the impact of recent changes to the Senate’s rules.

After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda


February 28, 2011

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105

SERIES: Judicial Issues Forum | No. 28