June 13, 2024

Young, Coons Celebrate Committee Passage of JUDGES Act

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) applauded the passage of their Judicial Understaffing Delays Getting Emergencies Solved (JUDGES) Act of 2024 by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The bipartisan bill, as amended, unanimously passed the committee and now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The JUDGES Act of 2024 would address judicial emergencies and shortages across the country by increasing the number of federal district judges in the most overworked regions of the country, including the Southern District of Indiana.

“Too many Hoosiers and Americans are being denied access to our justice system due to an overload of cases and a shortage of judges. Our bipartisan bill will help alleviate this shortage and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to have their day in court,”said Senator Young. “Senator Coons and I have worked diligently with our colleagues to ensure this legislation effectively addresses these judicial shortages and fairly distributes the additional judgeships across multiple presidential administrations. Today’s unanimous vote on our amended bill is a testament to bipartisanship and common-sense legislating. I urge the full Senate to pass this important legislation as soon as possible.”

“I’m delighted that the Senate Judiciary Committee has gotten serious about the crisis facing overworked judges across the country today by taking up and advancing my bipartisan JUDGES Act to the Senate floor,” said Senator Coons. “For too long, Congress has failed to add new federal judgeships to keep pace with the rising caseloads around the country, and our nation’s federal courts – especially in Delaware, where there are only four active judgeships – have paid the price. Senator Young and I worked with members of the committee on both sides of the dais to amend this bill and make it stronger; that the bill garnered unanimous support is a testament to the legislative process working as it should and as Americans deserve. I hope my Senate colleagues will follow the committee’s lead and pass this bill so we can get our judiciary working again.”

Young first introduced the legislation in 2020 and re-introduced it 2021 and 2023. The JUDGES Act of 2024 would act on the findings in the nonpartisan 2023 Judicial Conference of the United States report by creating the recommended judgeships during future presidential administrations. The bill as passed by the Judiciary Committee includes updates to the structure and timing of these new judgeships, additional transparency requirements, and provisions to ensure greater access to justice in certain high-need areas of the country.

Courts across the country are overburdened and facing a shortage of federal judges. As of March 31, 2023, there were 686,797 pending cases in federal district courts across the country, averaging 491 filings per judgeship over a 12-month period. In March of 2023, the Judicial Conference of the United States, a nonpartisan policy-making body for federal courts, recommended that Congress create 66 new district court judgeships, including one in the Southern District of Indiana, to help alleviate this crisis. The Southern District of Indiana would be part of the first tranche of the newly-created judgeships under this bill.

Congress bears the constitutional responsibility of establishing judgeships in the district courts of the United States. However, the last comprehensive authorization of new judgeships, which established 11 additional circuit court judgeships and 74 district court judgeships across America, occurred in 1990. Since then, targeted legislation enacted between 1999 and 2003 created 34 additional district court judgeships. It has now been two decades since Congress last authorized additional district judgeships.

In addition to Senators Young and Coons, Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) also cosponsored the JUDGES Act of 2024.