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Federal Justice System Year-End Report
Washington Post, Roberts steers clear of controversy, praises district judges in year-end report, Robert Barnes, Dec. 31, 2016. The federal courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular have been a focal point of the contentious 2016 election campaign, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. continued to steer well clear of controversy in his year-end report issued Saturday.
Roberts, shown in an official photo, did not mention that the court has been shorthanded since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February nor the Republican-controlled Senate’s refusal to hold a hearing for President Obama’s nominee to the court, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland. That action kept the seat open for an appointment by President-elect Donald Trump, and will retain a conservative majority of Republican nominees on the Supreme Court.
Instead, Roberts used his Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary to focus on what he said was the underappreciated role of federal district judges, who conduct trials and serve at the first level of the justice system.
The estimated 103 judicial vacancies that Obama is expected to hand over to Trump in the Jan. 20 transition of power is nearly double the 54 openings Obama found eight years ago following George W. Bush’s presidency.
“While the Supreme Court is often the focus of public attention, our system of justice depends fundamentally on the skill, hard work, and dedication of those outside the limelight,” Roberts wrote.
Trump has the chance to fill an uncommon number of vacancies in the federal courts in addition to the open Supreme Court seat, giving him a monumental opportunity to reshape the judiciary after taking office.…