Judge Norma Shapiro

Recent Articles by The State of the Judiciary: Federal Court Fiscal Problems

The State of the Judiciary: Federal Court Fiscal Problems

Our biggest problems (apart from judicial salaries and the consequent effect on morale and tenure of judges) are judicial vacancies and the politicization of the confirmation process. There has not been an omnibus judge bill for years; the Administrative Office has requested Congress to establish 88 new judgeships based on workload statistics. A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the Emergency Relief Act of 2011 (S.1014) to address some of the greatest judgeship needs. It provides for 10 additional judgeships in California, Texas, and Arizona, and would make permanent two additional temporary judgeships but, as of May 23, 2011, there were 86 vacancies; of 53 pending nominations, 40 are pending in Committee; only 13 are pending on the Senate floor. While there has been some welcome movement on confirmation votes recently, especially for the district courts, there are still 33 judicial emergencies. I am grateful to Denise Cardman of the ABA Washington office for following this situation so competently and providing me with these statistics.