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Republican Reverse Court-Packing

[ 9 ] April 10, 2013 |

I’m sure Chuck Grassley will support adding more court seats as soon as a Republican becomes president:

I would like to spend a couple minutes discussing the D.C. Circuit. As most of my colleagues know, the D.C. Circuit is the least busy circuit in the country. In fact, it ranks last or almost last in nearly every category that measures workload.

Based on the 2012 statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the D.C. Circuit has the fewest number of appeals filed per authorized judgeship, with 108. By way of comparison, the 11th Circuit ranks first with over 5 times as many appeals filed per authorized judgeship, with 583. . . . Given this imbalance in workload, today I am introducing the Court Efficiency Act. A number of my colleagues are co-sponsoring the legislation, including Senators Hatch, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, Lee, Cruz and Flake.

This legislation is straightforward. It would add a seat to the Second and the Eleventh Circuits. At the same time, it would reduce the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8.

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Comments (9)

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  1. L.M. says:

    And of course, there are already two vacancies in the Eleventh Circuit. I’m sure the Republicans will stop obstructing Jill Pryor any day now.

  2. JKTHs says:

    This is just another example of the gentlemanly and august nature of the Senate, which must be preserved at all cost via the filibuster.

  3. Murc says:

    … what the fuck?

    This sort of chicanery makes me sort of… double-angry, I guess?

    First I get angry because I have more than a bit of a technocratic streak and I think “No, that’s not right. The need of a court for judges isn’t based on the comparative level of busyness to other courts, but on whether or not the judges can handle the caseload. Being the least busy circuit might just mean they’re the least overworked, not that they’re overstaffed. What kind of idiot doesn’t know that?”

    And then I get angry AGAIN because I think “… oh. The people proposing this know perfectly damn well what they’re doing. They’re simply vandals.”

    I need a drink.

    • L.M. says:

      Traditionally, after they ensure that the federal courts are starved of resources, the Republicans then turn around and complain that the courts are struggling because they’re overburdened with all these [habeas/immigration/1983/mass tort/etc.] claims. So obviously we need new laws to restrict those.

      It’s the same basic starve-the-beast strategy that they employ against government spending in general.

  4. Bloix says:

    Counting cases to determine workload is ridiculous. Most federal circuits comprise many states, and tens of millions of people. In them, most appeals are by convicted criminals who seek to overturn the verdict or reduce their sentences. The great majority of these appeals are simple and can be resolved quickly. Many other appeals are relatively small-dollar commercial disputes that also don’t require much work.

    The DC Circuit geographically encompasses only the District of Columbia, population 800,000. There are far fewer routine criminal and commercial case appeals to the DC circuit than in any other circuit.

    But every federal rule-making or administrative order can be challenged in DC, and many can be challenged nowhere else, although they have national application. These appeals are generally far more complicated than the routine cases that form the majority of the caseload in other circuits, and each one requires many times the amount of work. This was of course well-understood when the number of judges was established for each circuit.

    • John says:

      Thanks, Bloix, for the explanation of why this is bullshit even on its own terms.

    • Breadbaker says:

      You beat me to it. The other thing about the DC Circuit is because it has no Senators, it is the only place (aside from territorial district courts and the Federal Circuit) where Presidents can appoint judges without them being fed through the patronage systems in the various states. It’s not a coincidence that three chief justices, and three other current justices, were DC Circuit judges. This is politics plain and simple, and the mainstream media is simply treating it as though there is some moral issue every time the Republicans put out a press release with more word salad on it.

  5. arguingwithsignposts says:

    On what issue is Chuck Grassley not a complete and utter fool?

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