Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Chief Justice Roberts’ Year-End Report On The Federal Judiciary


“Chief Justice John Roberts, in his annual year-end report, chose to focus much of his attention on cost-saving measures by the Federal courts, and he rightly calls on the other two branches to support the judiciary with needed resources so that the justice system can work for all Americans.  I thank the Chief Justice for continuing to raise this issue and I applaud the dedicated work of so many public servants who work in our nation’s Federal courts.

“I echo the Chief Justice’s call for the appointment of qualified judges to fill vacancies in courts throughout the country. Judges play a vital role in our democracy, and languishing vacancies on our courts only threatens the efficiency and effectiveness of that cherished system.  In addition to the 27 judicial emergencies that the Chief Justice mentioned, there are scores of other unfilled vacancies on our federal courts.  In fact, there are more judicial vacancies now – 75 – than when President Obama was sworn into office four years ago.  The nominations of too many qualified judicial nominees have needlessly languished on the Senate calendar, in this Congress, and in the last.  As we conclude the session, there are 15 nominees who, having had committee hearings, can and should be confirmed now, not next year.  This backlog only puts us further behind next year, and at a time when the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts recommends growing the number of judicial seats nationwide.  I hope both the President and both Democrats and Republicans heed Chief Justice Roberts’s call to, as he said in his annual report, ‘act diligently in nominating and confirming highly qualified candidates to fill those vacancies.’

“As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I stand ready to work with members of both parties to address the needs of our Federal courts including advocating for needed resources and pushing for Senate votes on qualified nominees.”


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