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The "12th circuit" - lawmakers push new federal appeals court

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho, joined by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have introduced a new bill to create a long-needed new federal appeals court.

Right now, the 9th circuit covers nine states including Idaho, Montana, Washington and two more territories. It has jurisdiction over one in five Americans. That's nearly twice as large as the second-biggest circuit.

Because of its size, Ninth Circuit decisions routinely lag. In fact, at times there are more than 10,000 cases filed with the court.

The newest proposal to add a 12th Circuit would create two new appellate court judgeships for the Ninth Circuit, as well as authorize 66 new permanent district court judgeships around the country and convert seven temporary district court judgeships to permanent judgeships.

The new Twelfth Circuit would cover Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, and be based in Seattle.

Ilya Shapiro, the former VP and Director of the Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, has written extensively on this topic. His research concluded that "breaking up the Ninth Circuit is a basic matter of legal administration and preserving the rule of law."

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