WASHINGTON -- As President Barack Obama winds down his first term in office, he won't be looking back with pride at his record on reducing federal judicial vacancies.
There are currently 83 empty district and circuit court judge seats. That means Obama is poised to end the year with more vacancies than when he was sworn in -- there were 55 when he came in -- and with far fewer confirmed nominees than his two predecessors had by the end of their first terms. While former President Bill Clinton was at 200 and George W. Bush was at 205, Obama is at 160, according to data provided by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Thirty-three of those 83 empty seats are considered "judicial emergencies," meaning that because of the number of vacancies at the circuit court level, the amount of cases per panel of judges [on a given court] exceeds 700, or stays between 500 and 700 for more than 18 months. In district courts, it means a single judge has more than 600 cases, or between 430 and 600 for more than 18 months. The more overloaded judges are, the more delayed the process of moving millions through the justice system.
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