Norton D.C. Courts Vacancy Reduction Act Passed by Oversight Committee Today

Dec 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that the Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) passed her District of Columbia Courts Vacancy Reduction Act today. The bill would allow judicial appointments to the local District of Columbia courts to take effect after a 30-day congressional review period, unless a joint resolution disapproving an appointment is enacted into law during that period. Currently, nominees to the local D.C. courts require Senate confirmation. The bill would make the congressional review process for appointments the same as the one currently used for legislation passed by the D.C. Council.

“I appreciate that COR passed my bill today to allow appointments to the local D.C. courts to take effect after a 30-day congressional review period,” Norton said. “This is the same process currently used for D.C. legislation. It is therefore a reliable process, long recognized by Congress. My bill was prompted by the unique requirement that nominees to the local D.C. courts be confirmed by the Senate, where nominees for the federal courts and the executive branch, understandably, get the primary focus and priority. This has led to a longstanding vacancy crisis on the District’s criminal and civil courts, regardless of which party controls the Senate, and the D.C. courts have raised serious concerns about the vacancies, including their effect on public safety.

“Thank you to Chairwoman Maloney for your leadership and support and for including my bill in this week’s markup.”

There are two local D.C. courts. The Superior Court is the trial court. The Court of Appeals is the appellate court. The Superior Court has 62 authorized judges. The Court of Appeals has nine authorized judges. Currently, the Superior Court has 14 vacancies, and the Court of Appeals has three vacancies.