Updated: Sep 8, 2022
The Latest on Public Policy and Advocacy Developments from FBA National
In the past month, FBA advocates have expanded their advocacy in support of the bipartisan Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act (S. 2340) and (H.R. 4436). FBA GRC members and outside counsel are collaborating with the FBA’s Judiciary Division Committee for U.S. District Judges, the Federal Judges’ Association, and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, as well as other stakeholders, to highlight the urgent need for judicial security legislation. FBA and outside counsel also are continuing to work to secure passage of the FBA Foundation Charter Amendments Act of 2021 (H.R. 2679).
1. Article I Immigration Courts Legislation Suffers Summer Slowdown
The Real Courts, Rule of Law Act (H.R. 6577) was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on May 11, but continues to await a vote by the full House. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reportedly is planning to file a Senate companion version, but she has not done so as of the date of this report. FBA is working to build bipartisan support for the initiative in both houses.
2. FY 2023 Appropriations Process Is Underway
The House Appropriations Committee on June 24 approved the FY23 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill, which includes funding for the federal courts. The bill and the approved Committee Amendmentsappropriate $8.6 billion in discretionary spending for the courts, consistent with the request from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. This amount includes $128 million for judicial security, cybersecurity, and IT modernization. Section 306 of the bill also extends several temporary judgeships. On July 20, the FSGG bill was passed by the full House as part of a 6-bill package (H.R. 8294), on a 220 to 207 vote. On July 28, 2022, the Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft of its FY 2023 FSGG appropriations bill, which would provide $8.476 billion for the judiciary, including funding for more security, IT modernization, and cybersecurity priorities. After the Senate returns from the August recess, it will continue the process of passing its bills and reconciling the differences with the House.
3. FBA Foundation Charter Legislation Still Awaiting Senate Passage
Although the House passed the Federal Bar Association Charter Amendments Act (H.R. 2679) over a year ago, the bill has been stalled for months in the Senate. However, outside counsel for the FBA GRC have recently learned that the concerns of the Senators who have been holding the bill can be addressed by a minor amendment. Amending the bill in the Senate would require the House to approve the bill again in its amended form, but the FBA believes the bill has sufficient support to pass again. Outside counsel are now working with the Senate Judiciary Committee to amend the Senate bill and secure its passage after the August recess.
4. Judgeships Legislation Unlikely to Pass this Congress
There is no change in the status of any of the pending legislation (S. 2535, H.R. 4885,H.R. 4886) to create additional judgeships. The FBA has not endorsed a particular bill or proposed solution but is urging members of both the Senate and the House Judiciary Committees to craft a bipartisan solution to relieve our overburdened courts.
Current Article III Vacancies - As of August 15, 2022 According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Seventy-seven of 890 active federal judicial positions, including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, are vacant. Forty more judicial vacancies are expected through October of 2023, with seventeen nominees named in advance.
Twenty-four judicial emergencies in vacancies remain, based on caseload and/or the length of the vacancy, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. One emergency is in the 11th Circuit, four are in the New York district courts, and nine are in the California district courts.
Since July 15th, the Senate has confirmed six judicial nominees:
Since July 15th, the President has made the following judicial nomination announcements:
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