Judiciary

S.276 – Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

Short Titles as Introduced:

Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

Official Titles as Introduced:

A bill to amend title 28, United States Code, to divide the ninth judicial circuit of the United States into 2 circuits, and for other purposes.

Introduced in Senate (02/02/2017)

Judicial Administration and Improvement Act of 2017

This bill divides the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit into: (1) a new Ninth Circuit, to be composed of California, Hawaii, Oregon, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands; and (2) a newly established Twelfth Circuit, to be composed of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.

Precedent from the former Ninth Circuit shall not be binding on the Twelfth Circuit.

The bill designates locations where the new circuits are to hold regular sessions.

The bill distributes active circuit judges of the former Ninth Circuit to the new circuits. Circuit judges and senior circuit judges currently stationed in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, or Washington may elect their circuit assignment. For each circuit judge in regular service who elects to be assigned to the new Ninth Circuit, the President shall appoint one additional circuit judge for the Twelfth Circuit.

–From Countable:

“This bill would split off part of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — which is the federal appeals court for Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — into a new 12th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 12th Circuit Court would cover Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington, while the 9th would keep the other states and territories under its current jurisdiction. These changes would take effect one year after this legislation’s enactment.

When this legislation takes effect, the 9th Circuit would continue to deal with all cases that have already been submitted for a decision. Appeals or proceedings that haven’t progressed to that stage of the judicial process would be referred to the court that would’ve had jurisdiction over it had the new court existed at the time of submission, and all relevant records would be transferred to that court.”

Argument in favor‘:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as it’s currently structured is too large and has too heavy a caseload. With an average wait time of 15 months, citizens under its jurisdiction don’t have quick access to justice. Creating a new 12th Circuit Court of Appeals would ease the burden of both courts and ensure the judicial system functions efficiently for residents of western states.”

Argument opposed‘:

“The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should keep its current jurisdiction despite it being a lot bigger than other circuits in terms of geographic size and population. Conservatives mainly want to break it up because they think it is staffed by too many liberal judges and has issued too many rulings that were eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.”

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