I recently wrote a post for Prawfsblawg on judicial nomination cascades, in which a sitting judge is elevated to a higher court, leaving a seat on the bench which itself must be filled. Sometimes the cascade stops after the second appointment, but on occasion we see triple or even quadruple cascades, as each seat is subsequently filled with a judge from a lower court. (A commenter to the Prawfsblawg post, for example, noted the Rehnquist-Scalia-Sentelle-Voorhees cascade at the federal level in 1986-87).
Federal nomination cascades often run to the state level, where governors (and occasionally legislatures) typically have authority to fill judicial vacancies by appointment. In recent weeks, the Georgia Court of Appeals has been particularly affected: three judges have been nominated (and two confirmed) for federal positions. With another judge retiring soon, Governor Nathan Deal will have to fill four of the court’s fifteen seats in short order.
Georgians should be proud that their intermediate appellate court has produced so many jurists thought worthy of federal positions. But the state will have to act quickly and carefully to keep the Court of Appeals at full strength.