CREATING ADDITIONAL FEDERAL COURT JUDGESHIPS -- (House of Representatives - October 05, 2004)
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Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this amendment. The Ninth Circuit represents 56 million people, or roughly one-fifth of our Nation's population. This is 25 million more people than the next largest circuit; 56 million people in one circuit. It encompasses 40 percent of the geographic area of the United States. Traveling across this much land mass wastes both time and money.
The Ninth Circuit also has the most number of appeals filed and the highest percentage increase in appeals filed, the most number of appeals still pending, and the longest median time until disposition. This is an overworked, overstretched court.
In addition, since the size of the circuit inhibits greater en banc participation by the entire circuit, the Ninth has adopted a practice that allows it to sit en banc with only 11 judges. This means the plurality of those 11, six judges, can effectively determine the case law for the circuit and the remaining 20 judges who serve. All of this leads to inconsistency in case law development and uncertainty among litigants. The outcome of cases in the Ninth are frequently determined more by the composition of a given three-judge panel, not by the law of the circuit as it has evolved. This is detrimental to the law-declaring role, one of a circuit's two primary functions, the other being to correct errors on appeal.
Mr. Chairman, I commend the gentleman from Idaho who has worked tenaciously on this issue to try and bring about fairness in the distribution of the workload in the Ninth Circuit and to bring about fairness in terms of where these cases are heard. We heard from the gentleman from Montana about the need at least to have a judge come there and hear a case once in a while. I think the gentleman from California, if I heard right from the gentleman from Montana, the judge he cited moved to California in 1960 and never held a hearing in Montana. In effect, he became a Californian.
Mr. Chairman, I support this amendment.