President Trump Makes Progress on Judicial Vacancies

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On August 1, 2017, Alex Swayer of the Washington Times reported that while President Donald Trump has had difficulty filling many posts in the Executive Branch, he is moving at a brisk pace on judicial nominations.1

Five of the judges nominated thus far by President Trump have already been confirmed by the Senate, including one to the Supreme Court of the United States, three to Federal circuit courts, and one to a Federal district court. At the same point in his first term, President Barack Obama had no judges confirmed and President George W. Bush had only three (one circuit and two district court judges).

judicial vacancies

The article notes that President Trump had a total of 137 judicial vacancies to fill. He has already nominated 28 individuals, which is more than did President Obama but slightly fewer than President Bush at comparable times in their first terms in office. With five nominees already confirmed, there are 23 outstanding nominees. Six are nominees for critical Federal circuit court openings and sixteen are nominees for Federal district court openings.

The following are the names and profiles of the five judges who have been confirmed thus far:

  • 1. Justice Neil Gorsuch

Court: United States Supreme Court
Confirmed on April 7, 2017 by a vote of 54-45

We wrote a comprehensive profile on Justice Gorsuch during the confirmation process [see blog]. Please see our short post on Justice Gorsuch's confirmation to see a list of articles we wrote on the subject [see blog].

  • 2. Judge Amul Thapar

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Confirmed on May 8, 2017 by a vote of 52-44

Judge Thapar had previously been a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Judge Thapar features on President Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees, and he was reportedly one of the finalists interviewed for the vacancy that eventually went to now-Justice Gorsuch [see blog]. Judge Thapar will be a name to watch in the event that another vacancy opens on the Supreme Court during President Trump's term. Judge Thapar also has experience as an assistant U.S. attorney and in private practice. He graduated from California, Berkeley School of Law.2

  • 3. Judge David Nye

Court: United States District Court for the District of Idaho
Confirmed on May 8, 2017 by a vote of 100-0

Judge Nye had been a state court judge in Idaho. He had been nominated to the same seat by President Barack Obama in 2015 but was not confirmed before President Obama left office. President Trump re-nominated Nye on the advice of Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, who had previously recommended him to then-President Obama.3

  • 4. Judge John Bush

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Confirmed on July 20, 2017 by a vote of 51-47

John Bush was a nationally-recognized corporate attorney prior to being confirmed to the Sixth Circuit. He graduated from Harvard Law School.4 Judge Bush joins Judge Thapar as a second new judge on the Sixth Circuit.

  • 5. Judge Kevin Newsom

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Confirmed on August 1, 2017 by a vote of 66-31

Kevin Newsom worked in private practice prior to being confirmed to the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to that, he served for four years as Solicitor General of Alabama. In 2011, Newsom was appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to serve on the 10-member Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules. Judge Newsom graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice David Souter. It is worth noting that Judge Newsom is the youngest of the new judges at only 44 years of age.5

The following is the list of President Trump's pending circuit court nominees:

  • Stephanos Bibas (Third Circuit);
  • Joan Larsen (Sixth Circuit);
  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit);
  • Ralph R. Erickson (Eighth Circuit);
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit); and
  • Allison H. Eid (Tenth Circuit).

It is worth noting that Judges Larsen, Stras, and Eid are all on President Trump's Supreme Court list. Judge Eid is President Trump's pick to fill the Tenth Circuit seat vacated after Justice Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

We will update the site periodically with information about news on judicial nominees and confirmations.

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  1. Swayer, Alex. “With fifth judge confirmed, Trump outpaces Obama and Bush.” The Washington Times. Aug. 1, 2017. Washingtontimes.com
  2. Wood, Mary. “Lecturer, Judge Amul Thapar Nominated to 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.” University of Virginia School of Law. May 25, 2017. Law.virginia.edu
  3. Russell, Betsy Z. “New Judge Nye sworn in today, going right to work.” The Spokesman Review. Aug. 1, 2017. Spokesman.com
  4. Severino, Carrie. “Who is John Bush?” National Review Online. May 7, 2017. Nationalreview.com
  5. Severino, Carrie. “Who is Kevin Newsom?” National Review Online. May 7, 2017. Nationalreview.com
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