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Judiciary Committee Approves Measure Co-Sponsored by Senator Feinstein to Create New Federal Judgeships

-Includes six new judgeships for Ninth Circuit, 12 for California’s federal district courts-

Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation co-sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to create new federal judgeships around the United States.

The legislation would create six new judgeships at the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s busiest federal appellate court, including two temporary judgeships; and 12 new district judgeships in California: 

  • Four in the Eastern District, which is based in Sacramento. This court is severely understaffed, and is the nation’s second-busiest in terms of filings per judge;
  • Three in the Northern District, which is based in San Francisco, including one temporary judgeship;
  • Five in Central District, which is based in Los Angeles, including one temporary judgeship. 

“Congress has not passed a comprehensive bill to create new judgeships since 1990, and since that time, America’s courts have become strained under massive caseloads. And California’s federal courts are shouldering the brunt of the pain,” Senator Feinstein said.

“This is unacceptable. When our federal courts are strained, the American people suffer. Overburdened courts mean crime victims must wait longer for justice, and plaintiffs must wait longer to receive restitution or damages.

This legislation will go a long way toward resolving these strains – in California and across the nation. Now is the right time to do it. None of these positions will become effective until after the next president is inaugurated next January. So by moving forward now, we avoid letting this bill become mired in partisan politics.

I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill, because it is vitally important to the administration of justice in America’s federal courts.”


The Federal Judgeship Act of 2008 was introduced on March 13 by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The legislation addresses a critical shortage of federal judges in America. Since 1990, when the last comprehensive bill to create judgeships passed, federal appellate court caseloads have risen by 55 percent, and district court caseloads have risen by 29 percent.

The bill’s provisions are based on the most-recent recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which conducted an extensive review of case filings and caseloads in each judicial district and appellate circuit.

 The strains on the federal judiciary are most severe in California: 

  • The Eastern District court is America’s second-busiest in terms of filings. Due to severe overload, this court has resorted to extreme measures, including bringing in visiting judges from around the United States to hear hundreds of cases. This district has not added a new permanent judgeship in 30 years.
  • The Northern District court is America’s eighth-busiest. This court has not had a new permanent judgeship in 18 years.
  • The Central District court is America’s fifteenth-busiest. This court has not had a new permanent judgeship in 18 years.