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“I wish the Senate would understand, whichever party is in power, that they’re doing serious damage not just by imposing a burden on the existing judges, but by making it much more unattractive for people to want to become federal court judges,” Ms. Bloch said.

“If people aren’t attracted by the job and the prestige, they’re not going to take it because it’s a huge pay cut” compared with the sorts of private-sector jobs that federal judges can get.

Senate Republicans point out that Democrats also blocked judicial nominees during the George W. Bush administration, particularly pointing to Miguel Estrada, whose district court nomination was blocked several times by Democrats on ideological grounds.

Republicans also say the Obama administration has dragged its feet on sending nominees to the Senate and accuse the president of playing politics by choosing highly partisan candidates.

Although the number of vacancies has declined slightly in the past couple of years — as empty seats on federal benches tallied 101 in March and 105 two years ago — the problem has existed for decades.

President Reagan faced 38 judicial vacancies in his first full month in office in 1981, but four years later the number shot up to 106. President Clinton was burdened with the task of filling 109 judgeships upon his inauguration in 1993, and faced 80 empty seats during his last month in office eight years later.

President George W. Bush had among the most favorable vacancy records among recent presidents during his last years in office, beginning his second term in office in 2005 with about 40 vacancies and ending his presidency with almost 60. But he also faced a hefty 92 vacancies during his first full month as president in 2001.

“Democrats and Republicans need to work together more cooperatively to fill the vacancies,” Mr. Tobias said. “Everybody thinks it’s unilateral disarmament if they give up anything. That really has to stop.”