Center for American Progress

Addressing the Federal Judicial Vacancy Crisis in Pennsylvania

Addressing the Federal Judicial Vacancy Crisis in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey must work together to fill the vacancies on Pennsylvania's federal bench.

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idea_bulbIt has been more than 620 days since Sean McLaughlin, the U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, officially resigned from the bench—leaving a key spot on this important court unfilled.

Although Judge McLaughlin’s seat has been vacant the longest, his empty spot represents just the tip of the iceberg of what has become a federal judicial vacancy crisis in Pennsylvania. As of March 2015, there were five current vacancies on federal courts that serve the Keystone State. Only Texas has more federal judicial vacancies than Pennsylvania. If nothing is done about this situation, there will be six vacancies on the federal courts serving Pennsylvania within the next year. The result of these vacancies is a backlog of more than 3,400 cases and a denial of access to justice for Pennsylvanians. That backlog will only grow unless action is taken.

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