Texas confronts many federal appellate and district court openings, but the situation has reached crisis proportions. The state addresses two protracted U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacancies, which have lacked nominees for multiple years, and eleven open trial court seats, all but one classified as "judicial emergencies." This conundrum persists, although the Senate confirmed three jurists for Texas district vacancies in both 2014 and 2015 and President Barack Obama submitted well qualified, mainstream nominees on five empty posts in March 2016. Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz also failed to expeditiously provide those designees' "blue slips," a necessary precondition for Judiciary Committee arrangement of hearings. These candidates finally received a September hearing, which proceeded smoothly, but the panel never arranged a committee vote. Moreover, eight openings lacked nominees throughout last year, while the Texas senators' processes that marshaled candidates for administration consideration did not begin, or were moribund, on a few in 2016, so that no more choices received nomination that year, as well was a presidential election year when confirmations traditionally slow or halt. These phenomena impose detrimental effects, particularly related to justice's delivery. Because the circumstances recently became desperate, they require scrutiny.
The piece first surveys the history of modem appointments complications and the Texas vacancy crisis. It ascertains that expanding caseloads, increasing appellate and district court judgeships, and rampant partisanship have clearly undermined selection efforts across the country and Texas, which is ground zero for the "confirmation wars." Because the paper's analysis of the current situation detects that the nation and Texas confront prolonged open slots, which erode prompt, inexpensive, and equitable case resolution, the last section proffers future suggestions, mainly for President Donald Trump and the 115th Senate.
Carl Tobias, Filling the Texas Federal Court Vacancies, 95 Texas L. Rev. See Also 170 (2017).