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With all of the issues facing the administration, one of the most important will be the affect that the new administration will have on the judicial branch of the government. As President, Obama will be appointing any openings on the Supreme Court and the Federal Courts. Presently, there are 13 vacancies on the federal courts of appeals (8 percent of the 167 active judgeships) and an additional 41 vacancies on the federal district courts (about 6 percent.) It is expected that there may be as many as three potential opening (John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter) from Supreme Court retirements.

There is also talk that the number of federal judges may be increased overall. How the Seate will respond to new nominations is yet to be seen. The Republicans have maintained enough of their ranks to still tie nomination votes up and history has shown that sometimes strong partisan membership doesn’t always mean easy votes for the sitting President.

Clearly, there will be a difference in the type of nominees who will be offered for the positions. With over 30,000 cases decided yearly by the federal courts, it is clear that these nominations will have long term affect on our laws.

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