The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is easily America’s most liberal circuit court. Now, it could be getting a lot smaller, all thanks to Congress.
According to The Daily Caller, a House panel heard arguments Thursday about splitting up the large 9th Circuit into two smaller units, citing the huge geographical region it covers and the immense number of cases it handles.
The 9th Circuit’s liberal slant came under question when it blocked the first version of President Trump’s travel ban last month.
The hearing was held before the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, chaired by Republican Rep. Darryl Issa of California.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit covers a total of nine western states. The Daily Caller also noted it hears 12,000 cases a year, twice that of any other circuit court.
Splitting up a circuit court isn’t unheard of. In 1981, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was split into two, with Alabama, Georgia, and Florida put into the newly formed 11th Circuit. That split went through both houses easily. However, several efforts to do the same to the 9th Circuit have failed, the last in 2005.
Judges for the 9th Circuit, however, argued before the committee that the court had built up an economy of scale (because that’s something you want to hear when jurisprudence and the Constitution are involved) and that a new court simply wouldn’t work.
“Splitting the circuit will have a devastating effect on the administration of justice in the western United States,” Chief Justice Sidney Thomas said.
“We have a large, centralized staff and the resources to solicit expert input,” Judge Alex Kozinski testified. “The 9th Circuit is on the cutting edge of bringing justice to the people“
Arguments against splitting it up include the cost of a new federal courthouse ($128 million), as well as having uniform copyright law across the western states, which are home to many tech firms.
However, some Democrats were more vocal about the fact they thought splitting the court was a political move.
“Like clockwork, we see proposals to split the 9th Circuit whenever it hands down decisions with which conservatives disagree,” Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of California said.
Issa strongly denied any political considerations.
“It isn’t ideologically motivated with me,” Issa said. “I haven’t made any decisions.”
Either way, considering the role the 9th Circuit has played so far in his young administration — and the cases it’s likely to get in the future — you can bet this is going to make President Trump smile.
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