Split Up Ninth Circuit Appeals Court: It’s Far Too Large

It’s far too large to provide swift justice for the 60 million people, in nine states, within its jurisdiction.

Is Congress finally getting to the business of splitting the unworkable Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals? This has been a long-running debate spanning several decades, but one that is imperative to resolve if we are to provide equal and adequate access to justice for all.

The Ninth Circuit is the largest Circuit Court of Appeals in the nation. It contains nine western states in addition to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, with a total population of more than 60 million people. For comparison, that is double the population of the next-largest circuit court and is four times the size of the First and Tenth Circuits. It accounts for more than one-third of all pending appeals in the United States. It typically takes 15 months to resolve a case in the Ninth Circuit — more than twice as long as in the average circuit. Such conditions require that the Ninth employ a large number of judges. Today, it has 29 active judges and 19 senior judges — the most on any circuit court in the country. The U.S. Judicial Conference recently recommended that Congress authorize an additional five judges for the Ninth. Simply put, this court is too large.

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