The Washington Times reports today that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, has 4 judicial openings for the 15 slots available on the court.
The 4th Circuit has long been considered the nation’s most conservative circuit court. Even the Washington Times agrees which is pot calling the kettle black. Last month, however, the court broke from that label, rejecting the government’s detention of an American citizen captured in the United States and held as an enemy combatant, a decision that outraged many conservatives.
The article provides some interesting data on the turnaround time of our federal circuit courts. Relatively speaking, the 4th Circuit decides cases quickly – the median time is 9 ½ months, faster than all but 1 of the 11 federal circuits. The average for all of the circuits is just over a year. But caseloads are on the rise somewhat, with an increase from 4,887 in 2003, to 5,460 in 2006.
The problem, of course, is in the difficulty of getting judges confirmed by the Senate. With the partisan chasm in Washington the widest it has been in the last 100 years, according to some analysts, and the upcoming elections (you would think the presidential election was three weeks away), this problem will continue to exacerbate. Still, I have to say, I really do not consider 9½ months to be that long to wait for a federal appellate opinion.