As President Joe Biden enters office, there are only two federal appeals court vacancies, the lowest number for an incoming president since the 1970s, a Law360 analysis noted this week.
Biden also assumes the presidency with the lowest number of overall federal judicial vacancies for an incoming president in decades.
As University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told the publication:
Biden’s opportunity at this point does not compare very favorably with recent predecessors.”
This is of course in contrast to President Donald Trump, who entered office with 18 appeals court vacancies after a GOP-controlled Senate refused to confirm nominees President Barack Obama put forward in 2015 and 2016 — including Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.
As Adam Feldman of Empirical SCOTUS wrote of Trump’s judicial appointments in 2019:
With many of these judges tipping the balance of the courts in favor of Republican-nominated judges, the transition in the types of the decisions these courts make are already noticeable. These changes will become even more apparent as time goes on.”