Nominations are a good start, but it’s only just over a quarter of the job

11-vacancies-gif-final We are pleased that, at long last, Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz stopped dithering long enough to allow President Obama to send the Senate nominees to fill three vacancies on federal courts in Texas.  And we are pleased that, in keeping with his strong record on diversity, one of the President’s nominees would be the first openly gay judge on the Texas federal courts.

But Cornyn and Cruz still have done little more than a quarter of the job.  There still are eight judicial vacancies without nominees in Texas – the most, by far, of any state.  California and New York, for example, have only one each.

  • Texas still has more than a quarter of all vacancies nationwide for which there is not even a nominee (eight out of 30).
  • Six Texas seats on United States district courts still are vacant without nominees.
  • There are two more Texas vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • It’s been 2,035 days – more than five years – from the day Judge Royal Furgeson stepped down from his bench in the Western District until today – when a replacement finally was nominated.
  • Three more Texas federal judges have announced plans to retire or take senior status – so soon there will be three more vacancies to fill.
  • None of the nominees would fill a seat in the Southern District, which has the most vacancies.

All this would be bad enough in any state, but it’s worse in Texas, which wouldn’t have enough judges even if every bench were filled.  According to the Judicial Conference of the United States—headed by Chief Justice John Roberts—Texas needs at least eight new judgeships to meet its growing federal caseload, in particular criminal cases, which have skyrocketed in recent years.

We intend to keep the pressure on Senators Cruz and Cornyn to make sure today’s nominations are only the beginning.  And if you’re from Texas, you can help!

Read more about judicial vacancies in Texas