The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Richmond, Virginia, and responsible for federal appeals from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, is usually described as the most conservative federal appellate court in the country. But a front page story in today’s Washington Post explains that the court’s composition has become more politically balanced, due mostly to vacancies that have not been filled by the Bush administration.

    The 15 member court currently has five Democrats, five Republicans, and five vacancies.  The article explains that the vacancies have been created by retirements and resignations among Republican members, which is affecting the balance of power on the court.