Washington, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 16-5 the Court Imbalance Restructure Concerning Updates to Impacted Tribunals (CIRCUIT) Act of 2018, H.R. 6754. This bill, authored by Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), modifies the structure of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The federal courts of appeal have regularly expanded in number and split in response to new states and territories being added to the Union as well as population growth. There are currently 12 regional circuits in addition to the Federal Circuit. The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit in caseload, population, and geography.
The CIRCUIT Act would implement the 1998 White Commission’s recommendation to create three regional divisions within the Ninth Circuit in order to improve judicial efficiency. The divisions would include a Northern Division, comprised of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, a Middle Division comprised of the existing Northern and Eastern Districts of California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Northern Marianas, a Southern Division comprised of Arizona and the existing Central and Southern Districts of California, and a Circuit Division which would hear certain cases including where two or more Divisions have reached final decisions of law that conflict.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Subcommittee Chairman Issa praised today’s approval of the CIRCUIT Act in the statements below.
Chairman Goodlatte: “For the past several decades, the size of the Ninth Circuit has continued to grow far in excess of other circuits. Twenty percent of the U.S. population now resides in this circuit with nine states and two territories, making it twice the size of any other circuit. The geographic breadth and workload of the Ninth Circuit makes it challenging for parties and their counsel to have timely court dates in their region.
“The CIRCUIT Act does not include an outright split of the Ninth Circuit but instead creates regional divisions in an effort to ensure our federal judiciary is functioning in the fairest and most efficient manner for the citizens it serves. I thank Subcommittee Chairman Issa for introducing this legislation and am pleased the Committee has passed it today.”
Subcommittee Chairman Issa: “Currently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the largest of the 13 federal appellate courts and, on average, hears about a quarter of the nation’s cases brought before the appellate courts in a given year. For years, many have called for this court to be divided, but there remains widespread disagreement on how those divisions should be made. The CIRCUIT Act is a step toward making this needed change. By dividing the Ninth Circuit into regional divisions that effectively function as individual appellate courts, we open the door to determining whether a circuit split would be feasible while, at the same time, preserve the current Ninth Circuit as a single appellate court.”