Forget New Judges, How About Whole New Circuits?
Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to split up the Ninth Circuit and create brand new Twelfth and Thirteenth Circuits.
The current Ninth Circuit would represent California, Guam, Hawaii, and the Northern Mariana Islands and keep its headquarters in San Francisco and L.A.; the new Twelfth would cover Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana and be based in Vegas and Phoenix; and the new Thirteenth would represent Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and sit in Portland and Seattle.
The proposal to split the circuit was added by an amendment to a bill increasing the number of federal judgeships. By my count, the new design would create 5 new appellate judges in the former Ninth Circuit. Currently the Ninth has 28 authorized judgeships, while the new plan would leave 19 in the Ninth, place 8 in the Twelfth and 6 in the Thirteenth, for a total of 33. (Note: the bill also adds 4 judges elsewhere -- 1 to the CA1, 2 to CA2, and 1 to CA6.)
As this news item notes, the Senate is strongly opposed to the plan, so it is unlikely to become law. Depending on who you ask, this will either eliminate the liberalness of the Ninth Circuit, by splitting it up and creating new judgeships (to be appointed by the next president -- Bush?), or enhance it, by isolating California, where the hippies are.
For more on creating new judgeships in general, check out this post.