Friday, October 13, 2006

Another Circuit? Two More?

The Ninth Circuit is the largest federal circuit, and proposals have circulated for years to split it. This morning's Seattle Times has an op-ed piece by two people who oppose a split. They're in a position to be affected: they're Robert S. Lasnik, the Chief Judge of the Western District of Washington, and Robert H. Whaley, the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Washington. Northwest doesn't need its own federal court circuit, Seattle Times, Oct. 13, 2006.

For the other side, see the Times's own editorial, A Pacific Northwest federal appeals court, Oct. 2, 2006. The editorial cites Ninth Circuit Judge Richard Tallman, who reports having to spend an inordinate amount of time traveling in the current, spread-out circuit.

The circuits are not immutable. In my memory (1981), the Eleventh Circuit was carved out of the Fifth Circuit. The previous split was in 1929, when the Tenth Circuit was carved out of the Eighth Circuit. (A convenient place to find the history of federal courts -- when they were established, how many judgeships they have, and so on, is on the Federal Judicial Center's Courts of the Federal Judiciary page.)

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