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With 11 Judicial Vacancies, Texas Has Most Open Court Seats in Country

Obstructing Scalia Successor Nothing New: 11 Federal Court Seats in Texas Are Empty

Texas has accumulated almost 19 years of judicial vacancies.

A lot of attention is currently focused on the Supreme Court vacancy that resulted from the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

In Texas, 11 of our federal court seats don't have a judge, far more than any other state in the country. Nine of those vacancies qualify as "emergency vacancies" - which means the delays are of extraordinary length and creating a back-up in the courts.

When the length of all the vacancies are added together, Texas has had 6,862 days without judges on the courts. That's almost 19 years of judicial vacancies, just for Texas!

As we've written many times  before, our courts matter

Texas' federal courts make rulings on almost every issue important to our state. While so much attention is given to the Supreme Court, it's critical to remember that dozens of federal judges in Texas have lifetime appointments to serve on lower federal courts, where they hear hundreds if not thousands of times the number of cases the Supreme Court hears.

The Supreme Court is considering landmark cases on abortion, climate change, immigration, affirmative action, workers’ rights, and redistricting. Half of those cases - abortion, affirmative action, and immigration - have come through Texas courts.

The Supreme Court vacancy is critically important, but the staggering delay in filling Texas' federal court seats may actually be more important for those Texans seeking their day in court.

Judicial Vacancies in Texas - 2/18/16
CIRCUIT/DISTRICT EMERGENCY LENGTH OF VACANCY NOMINEE
5th Circuit Court of Appeals Yes 1,296 days None
5th Circuit Court of Appeals Yes 779 days None
Southern District Yes 1,723 days None
Southern District Yes 639 days None
Northern Disrict Yes 960 days None
Northern District No 414 days None
Northern District No 15 days None
Western District Yes 370 days None
Eastern District Yes 345 days None
Eastern District Yes 279 days None
Eastern District Yes 42 days None
Future Vacancies
Northern District Future 05/01/16 -