Judicial Nominees

Federal Courts by the Numbers

The chart below details the vacancy by courts as of 2020. For the latest and most updated list of federal vacancies, click here to visit the official U.S. Courts site.

Court Vacancies Total Judgeships
U.S. Court of Appeals (Circuit Court) 0 179
U.S. District Courts 47 677
U.S. Court of Federal Claims 7 16
U.S. Court of International Trade 1 9
U.S. Supreme Court 0 9

Circuit Courts



Circuit Courts are grouped by color.

Click on a circuit to see nominee list and access bios. For small states and Washington DC, click the icons with 2-letter abbreviations.

    • Orange dots: circuit court judicial vacancies
    • Red dots: nominees
  • Gold dots: nominees recently confirmed

District Courts



Click on a state to see nominee list and access bios. For small states and Washington DC, click the icons with 2-letter abbreviations.

    • Green dots: district court judicial vacancies
    • Yellow dots: nominees
  • Blue dots: nominees recently confirmed

Want to hear more about our upcoming court-packing initiative?

Watch our episode on First Liberty Live!

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How Nominees are Confirmed

The Constitution, in the Appointments Clause, requires the President:

“Shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court, and all other [federal judges] which shall be established by Law [currently, Courts of Appeal and District Courts].”

Once a candidate has been nominated, he or she must be confirmed by the Senate, a process left by the Founders for the Senate to decide as they deem fitting.  The current confirmation process has developed over time to include numerous traditions, precedents, professional courtesies, and formal rules adopted by the Senate. Learn more about the 7-Step Process.

The Power of Federal Courts

Judges who become part of the federal judiciary hold immense power over the lives of Americans,  hearing cases that affect religious freedom for generations. The Supreme Court takes about 70-80 cases annually, while federal courts of appeals handle about 35,000 cases per year. So while Supreme Court justice selections are especially important, circuit court and district court judges hear 99% of all federal appeals cases. With the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, First Liberty attorneys—religious liberty experts—have been analyzing the opinions of judicial candidates related to religious freedom.

How the U.S. Court System Works

DUAL COURT SYSTEM Because the Founders wanted a union of sovereign states, the U.S. has a dual court system: the federal judiciary and the individual state judiciaries. STATE JUDICIARY Each state has its own court system to resolve disputes pertaining state law. States seat judges either through election, appointment or a combination of both election and appointment (Missouri Plan). FEDERAL JUDICIARY The federal judiciary is regulated by the Constitution.  Judges on these benches make decisions on issues pertaining to federal law and interstate issues.  To be appointed, an individual must be nominated by the president and consented to by the Senate.  Click the graphic above for greater detail on the behind the scenes process that leads to an appointment.

Expert Analysis

Packing the Courts is a Serious Threat and America Needs Another Hatton W. Sumners to Speak Up
America needs someone who will stand strong against “court-packing,” a plan that threatens the constitutional order and our liberties.
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One-Third of Federal Appellate Judges Eligible to Retire Could Create Dozens of Vacancies
Before going down treacherous road of court-packing, let’s loook at the judicial vacancies already available right now.
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What Impact Could A Biden Administration Have on America’s Federal Courts?
Is it possible for the new administration to effectuate the same transformation and reshaping of the federal judiciary as its predecessor?
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Victories Across All Levels of Federal Judiciary Signal a Resurgence of Religious Freedom in 2021
Federal judges have affirmed that religious freedom is an essential right, and houses of worship must be treated equally.
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Sec4 Religous Test 300 Democratic Senators Prey with Religious Tests
Senators continue to use un-Constitutional religious tests.
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Mission & Vision | First Liberty Is Religious Liberty Making a Comeback?
Our CEO asks if the SCOTUS term will signal a comeback for religious liberty.
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Fli Insider Sec4 300 5 Ways the 9th Circuit is Changing
See through info-graphs five ways the Ninth Circuit is being changed.
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The 5th Circuit | First Liberty New Nominees are Making a ‘Texas-Sized’ Impact
Read how judicial nominees are changing the 5th circuit.
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The Transformation of Federal Courts | First Liberty 7 Pictures show Federal Court’s Transformation
See through seven different info-graphs how America’s courts are changing.
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Judge Cory Wilson 300 Reclaiming the Courts for a Young Generation
The U.S. Senate confirms record breaking 200th judicial nominee, Cory Wilson
Read More


Keep Up to Date on Judicial Nominees

    Check out this letter to our president, Kelly Shackelford, from the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley.  In addition to taking your religious freedom cases, First Liberty gets involved to ensure Constitutional originalist judges are confirmed to the bench. Our experts are always at work to keep you and our representatives up to date on pertinent analyses crucial for a well staffed bench and the preservation of liberty.

Join First Liberty’s Effort to Help Confirm Conservative Judicial Nominees

Below are links with U.S. Senators by state. If you want to join with First Liberty, contact your U.S. Senators today and tell them to confirm originalist judges, and stop the threat of court-packing in our nation’s federal judiciary.


Alabama: 11th Circuit

Senator Richard C. Shelby (R)
Senator Tommy Tuberville (R)

Alaska: 9th Circuit

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R)
Senator Daniel Sullivan (R)

Arizona: 9th Circuit

Senator Martha McSally (R)
Senator Mark Kelly (D)

Arkansas: 8th Circuit

Senator John Boozman (R)
Senator Tom Cotton (R)

California: 9th Circuit

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)
Senator Alex Padilla (D)

Colorado: 10th Circuit

Senator Michael F. Bennet (D)
Senator John W. Hickenlooper (D)

Connecticut: 2nd Circuit

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D)
Senator Christopher Murphy (D)

Delaware: 3rd Circuit

Senator Thomas R. Carper (D)
Senator Christopher A. Coons (D)

Florida: 11th Circuit

Senator Rick Scott (R)
Senator Marco Rubio (R)

Georgia: 11th Circuit

Senator Jon Ossoff (D)
Senator Raphael G. Warnock (D)

Hawaii: 9th Circuit

Senator Brian Schatz (D)
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D)

Idaho: 9th Circuit

Senator Mike Crapo (R)
Senator James E. Risch (R)

Illinois: 7th Circuit

Senator Richard J. Durbin (D)
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D)

Indiana: 7th Circuit

Senator Mike Braun (R)
Senator Todd Young (R)

Iowa: 8th Circuit

Senator Chuck Grassley (R)
Senator Joni Ernst (R)

Kansas: 10th Circuit

Senator Roger Marshall (R)
Senator Jerry Moran (R)

Kentucky: 6th Circuit

Senator Mitch McConnell (R)
Senator Rand Paul (R)

Louisiana: 5th Circuit

Senator Bill Cassidy (R)
Senator John Kennedy (R)

Maine: 1st Circuit

Senator Susan M. Collins (R)
Senator Angus S. King Jr. (I)

Maryland: 4th Circuit

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D)
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D)

Massachusetts: 1st Circuit

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)
Senator Edward J. Markey (D)

Michigan: 6th Circuit

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D)
Senator Gary C. Peters (D)

Minnesota: 8th Circuit

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D)
Senator Tina Smith (D)

Mississippi: 5th Circuit

Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
Senator Roger F. Wicker (R)

Missouri: 8th Circuit

Senator Josh Hawley (R)
Senator Roy Blunt (R)

Montana: 9th Circuit

Senator Jon Tester (D)
Senator Steve Daines (R)

Nebraska: 8th Circuit

Senator Deb Fischer (R)
Senator Ben Sasse (R)

Nevada: 9th Circuit

Senator Jacky Rosen (D)
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

New Hampshire: 1st Circuit

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Senator Margaret Wood Hassan (D)

New Jersey: 3rd Circuit

Senator Robert Menendez (D)
Senator Cory A. Booker (D)

New Mexico: 10th Circuit

Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D)
Senator Martin Heinrich (D)

New York: 2nd Circuit

Senator Charles E. Schumer (D)
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D)

North Carolina: 4th Circuit

Senator Richard Burr (R)
Senator Thom Tillis (R)

North Dakota: 8th Circuit

Senator John Hoeven (R)
Senator Kevin Cramer (R)

Ohio: 6th Circuit

Senator Sherrod Brown (D)
Senator Rob Portman (R)

Oklahoma: 10th Circuit

Senator James M. Inhofe (R)
Senator James Lankford (R)

Oregon: 9th Circuit

Senator Ron Wyden (D)
Senator Jeff Merkley (D)

Pennsylvania: 3rd Circuit

Senator Robert P. Casey (D)
Senator Patrick J. Toomey (R)

Rhode Island: 1st Circuit

Senator Jack Reed (D)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D)

South Carolina: 4th Circuit

Senator Lindsey Graham (R)
Senator Tim Scott (R)

South Dakota: 8th Circuit

Senator John Thune (R)
Senator Mike Rounds (R)

Tennessee: 6th Circuit

Senator Bill Hagerty (R)
Senator Marsha Blackburn (R)

Texas: 5th Circuit

Senator John Cornyn (R)
Senator Ted Cruz (R)

Utah: 10th Circuit

Senator Mitt Romney (R)
Senator Mike Lee (R)

Vermont: 2nd Circuit

Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D)
Senator Bernard Sanders (I)

Virginia: 4th Circuit

Senator Mark R. Warner (D)
Senator Tim Kaine (D)

Washington: 9th Circuit

Senator Patty Murray (D)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D)

West Virginia: 4th Circuit

Senator Joe Manchin III (D)
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R)

Wisconsin: 7th Circuit

Senator Ron Johnson (R)
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D)

Wyoming: 10th Circuit

Senator Cynthia M. Lummis (R)
Senator John Barrasso (R)

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Nomination Date
(click for bio)
Learn More
DC-CCA 09/07/2017      11/28/2017 Gregory G. Katsas Expert Analysis
DC-CCA 11/14/2018 03/13/2019 Neomi J. Rao Expert Analysis