WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today approved a provision authored by U.S. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that will add one judgeship to the federal appeals court that serves Arizona, California and the Western region.
The provision was included in S.378, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, which was approved by the Senate 97 to 0. The provision eliminates the twelfth seat on the D.C. Circuit and adds one on the Ninth Circuit.
“For years, members of the Judiciary Committee have noted that the D.C. Circuit’s caseload does not justify a twelfth seat on the court,” Kyl said. “In contrast, even with a nearly full complement of active judges on the Ninth Circuit, the court faces a backlog of cases, which delays justice for ordinary people in Arizona who must wait to have their lawsuits resolved. This amendment would add another judge to the court to help alleviate this backlog and burden.”
“Last year, the average workload for judges in the Ninth Circuit was 33 percent higher than the national average,” Feinstein said. “California is hit hardest by the inadequate number of judgeships on the Ninth Circuit, and desperately needs more judges. Transferring a judgeship from the D.C. Circuit to the Ninth Circuit for California is a necessary step toward easing this judicial emergency.”
The twelfth seat of the D.C. Circuit was first authorized in 1984, but has remained vacant the majority of the years since that time, including for the last 10 years. The Ninth Circuit, however, has the most pending cases per judge anywhere in the country, many of which are immigration-related.