Judicial Nominees | First Liberty
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Judicial Nominees

First Liberty’s Expert Analysis

Make Our Federal Courts Great Again | First Liberty 3 Things President Trump is Doing
Here are three critical points that you need to know when it comes to conservative judges. Read More
FLI Insider | Religious Test | First Liberty Trump’s Nominees Should “Plead the Sixth”
As President Trump continues to nominate more people to fill federal vacancies, Article VI is likely going to become a staple reference. Read More
51 Judges | First Liberty Next Judicial Wave Under Way
President Trump continues to make the nomination of excellent judges one of his top priorities. Read More
Five Things You Need To Know | First Liberty Can Trump “Flip” the Circuit Courts?
President Trump and Senate Republicans have an opportunity in front of them that may not present itself again. Read More
Learn How a Nominee Becomes a Judge
If there’s one thing that we learned this past year it’s that judicial nominations can be a whirlwind. Read More
A Two-Front Fight | First Liberty A Two-Front Fight
At first glance you may think that each house being controlled by a different party will just mean more swamp gridlock. Read More

Federal Courts by the Numbers

Currently, there are over 100 judicial vacancies in our federal courts. The chart below details the vacancy by court. For an up-to-the-minute 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) 8 179
U.S. District Courts 125 677
U.S. Court of Federal Claims 11 16
U.S. Court of International Trade 4 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


America needs more excellent judges.
Urge the Senate to confirm President Trump’s nominees

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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. President Trump, along with the Republican-controlled Senate, has a prime opportunity to nominate judges who will uphold the Constitution. As with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh 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.

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.

In the News

  Check out these articles with outstanding graphics and stats on nominees and the process to the bench.

Washington Post Everything you need to know about appointing a Supreme Court justice
Washington Post How Trump is shifting the most important courts in the country


Read what others are saying about the presidential power of appointments and how President Trump is impacting the courts.

BuzzFeed News Trump’s New Judges Are Everything Conservatives Hoped For And Liberals Feared
CATO It’s Time for GOP Leadership to Stop Letting Democrats Stall Judicial Nominations
Chicago Tribune Trump drives long-lasting impact on federal courts through conservative nominees
NY Times Lasting Implications for the Courts as Republicans Gain in the Senate
NY Times Trump Could ‘Flip’ the Supreme Court. His Impact on the Lower Courts Is Less Clear.

Here’s what’s unfolding in the Senate regarding judicial appointments.

Fox News White House announces 51 judicial picks, including two for liberal 9th Circuit
Fox News Stalled judicial nominees will be confirmed ‘no matter what tactics’ employed, McConnell says
GOP USA Lindsey Graham likely to lead Senate Judiciary Committee
National Review Senate Judiciary Committee Keeps Humming Along
National Review Judicial Nominations Update
NY Times Senate Truce Collapses as G.O.P. Rush to Confirm More Judges Begins Anew

Delve deeper! You’ll find references to the Founding Fathers’ intentions for the court, views on the purpose of the court and how judges should act (in both the nominee phase and once on the bench), and political strategies used to by all the branches to further their causes through the judiciary.

CATO How Constitutional Corruption Has Led to Ideological Litmus Tests for Judicial Nominees
CATO How the Courts Got Dumbed Down
CATO Judicial Nominations and the Freedom Movement
CATO Originalism Can Help Solve This Problem
CATO Senate Rules and Norms, Not the Size of the Federal Government, are to Blame for the Broken Judicial Confirmation Process
CATO The Lost Culture of Originalism
National Review ‘The Virtues of Judicial Self-Restraint’
National Review The Supreme Court Has Been Making Policy
National Review Yes, the Supreme Court Is Undemocratic
NY Times What’s the Point of the Supreme Court?


Urge the U.S. Senate to Confirm Conservative Judicial Nominees

Below are links with U.S. Senators by state. Contact your U.S. Senators today and tell them to quickly confirm textualist judges to our nation’s federal judiciary. We’ve provided you with suggested language you can use in your letter to your Senators.


Alabama: 11th Circuit

Senator Richard C. Shelby (R)
Senator Doug Jones (D)

Alaska: 9th Circuit

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

Arizona: 9th Circuit

Senator Martha McSally (R)
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (R)

Arkansas: 8th Circuit

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

California: 9th Circuit

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)
Senator Kamala D. Harris (D)

Colorado: 10th Circuit

Senator Michael F. Bennet (D)
Senator Cory Gardner (R)

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 Jonny Isakson (R)
Senator David Perdue (R)

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 Pat Roberts (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 Tom Udall (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 Lamar Alexander (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 Michael B. Enzi (R)
Senator John Barrasso (R)


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The Honorable (Senator’s Name)
1234 Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senator (Name),
I’m writing to you today on a matter that is important to me as your constituent, and also vital for the nation. As you know, voters elected President Trump to appoint principled judges to the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeal and district courts.

I am pleased with the fair and timely confirmation of Justice Gorsuch and would like to see more judges confirmed in a similar manner. At the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump faced more vacancies for federal judgeships than Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Due to more retirements and unnecessary delays in the Senate, there are now more judicial vacancies than the day President Trump was inaugurated. That is unacceptable.

There is one simple way to reform the judicial confirmation process and restore the constitutionally-mandated role of the Senate. The 30-hour debate rule should be repealed or replaced with a more reasonable limit (such as 8 hours) on debate before a vote. I support Senator Lankford’s proposal for revising the 30-hour debate rule. Please call upon Leader McConnell to change that practice immediately.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Each day these judicial vacancies aren’t filled, the backlog of cases grows. Justice delayed is justice denied.


(Your Name)