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Checked, not balanced

The vacancies in US government signal political breakdown

By Dahlia Lithwick   July 2011

The Obama administration is quickly gaining a reputation for its empty desks. Senior posts sit empty, while the federal judiciary—where vacancies are filled by the president and confirmed by the Senate—are increasingly in a state known as “judicial emergency.” This reflects the wider paralysis in government, where Congress and the White House have been unable to agree on a range of urgent issues, from the spiralling national debt [see p24] to key personnel changes.

Over 100 judicial seats—or 11 per cent of all federal judgeships—currently remain empty as caseloads increase. Some 36 of those vacant seats have been officially designated…

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