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VERIFY: President Obama didn't leave 128 federal judge vacancies, but it was still a large number

President Donald Trump claims the previous administration left him 128 openings on the federal bench. It was not that number, but it was a large number.

WASHINGTON — This week all eyes were on the Senate Judiciary Committee as Republicans try to send Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

But what has gotten very little attention is the record pace the Trump Administration has filled the lower federal court vacancies.

We had a viewer email us and ask us about a claim the president made during the last Presidential Debate on September 29. During the debate the president claimed that President Barack Obama left him 128 federal judge vacancies to fill.


Did President Obama leave 128 federal judge positions unfilled when he left office?


No, it was not 128.

Our Sources:

The US Federal Courts records and University of Maryland law professor, Dr. Mark Graber.


“People tend to focus on the big nine, but the big nine only decide 60 or 70 cases,” Dr. Graber explained.

To get into it, Graber said you have to understand there are hundreds of federal judges.

“The lower federal court judges determine whether the law is constitutional or not,” he explained. “So we need to pay a good deal of attention to the lower federal courts.”

If you go to U.S. Courts website, it lists how many vacancies are on the federal benches.

In 2017, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the record says there were 112 vacancies

As a comparison, when Obama took office in 2009, there were only 53 vacancies. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, there were 80.

President Trump got the number wrong claiming 128 federal judge spots were left unfilled when he took office. The actual number is 112, which is significantly higher than the previous two administrations.

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