Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 13, 2013, 3:00pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) -- The American Bar Association has approved a resolution in support of legislation authorizing permanent and temporary judgeships.

The ABA's House of Delegates, the policy-making body of the association, is in San Francisco for its annual meeting.

At this year's meeting, which runs through Tuesday, delegates voted in favor of comprehensive legislation to authorize needed permanent and temporary federal judgeships, with particular focus on the federal districts with identified judicial emergencies "so that affected courts may adjudicate all cases in a fair, just and timely manner."

The ABA also is urging President Barack Obama to advance nominees for current vacancies for federal judicial positions "promptly" and the U.S. Senate to hear and vote on the nominations "expeditiously."

The association noted that Congress has not passed comprehensive legislation authorizing additional judgeships since 1990.

Since that time, federal district courts have experienced a 38 percent growth in caseloads but have seen only a 4 percent increase in judgeships.

"Legislation is needed to ensure that the federal judiciary has the judgeships it needs to adjudicate all cases in a prompt, efficient and fair manner," according to the association's executive summary of the resolution.

"As of May 16, 2013, there are 85 federal judicial vacancies and 24 nominations pending. Filling these existing judicial vacancies is essential."

Last month, U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Chris Coons introduced legislation that would create 91 new federal judgeships in two federal circuits and 32 federal districts across 21 states.

Leahy, D-Vt., and Coons, D-Del., said they based their Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 on recommendations of the nonpartisan Judicial Conference, which is headed up by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

"Congress has left the judicial staffing of our federal courts essentially unchanged for 23 years, despite rapidly growing caseloads," Coons said in a statement. "This bill would provide much-needed relief to our overburdened courts, ensuring that they are better prepared to administer justice quickly and efficiently.

"Increasing the number judgeships will help cases move more quickly, reduce uncertainty preventing businesses from creating jobs, and permit every American who has been wronged to get their day in court."

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, agreed.

"Federal judges are working harder than ever, but in order to maintain the integrity of the federal courts and the expediency that justice demands, judges must have a manageable workload," he said in a statement.

"This good government bill will improve the effectiveness of our federal courts and provide federal judges with the resources to promptly render the justice that Americans so desperately need and deserve."

Per the Judicial Conference's recommendations, the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 creates five permanent judgeships and one temporary judgeship to the courts of appeals; creates 65 permanent judgeships and 20 temporary judgeships to the district courts; and gives permanent status to eight temporary district court judgeships.

Leahy and Coons pointed to a letter from Conference Secretary Thomas Hogan in April:

"Nationwide, our Article III district courts have experienced a 38 percent growth in caseload since 1990 (the last time Congress passed a comprehensive judgeship bill) while seeing only a 4 percent increase in judgeships during this same period of time," Hogan wrote.

"This situation has created enormous difficulties for many of our courts across the nation."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

More News