Bill aims to split Ninth Circuit Court

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals includes nine states, plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals includes nine states, plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. (Map via Ninth Circuit website.)

The age-old effort to split up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is back. Republican senators Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Steve Daines of Montana have co-sponsored the latest bill. The Ninth Circuit is the federal appeals court for Alaska and eight other western states. It is by far the biggest of all the circuit courts, serving a population nearly double the second largest.

Campaigns to split it up date back to at least the 1940s.

Many critics say the court is dominated by California judges and too liberal. The co-sponsors, though, stuck to statistics in a statement today promoting their bill. The senators say the court has over 14,000 pending cases, more than three times the volume of any other circuit, and takes longer, on average, to resolve them.

The bill would leave California and Hawaii in the Ninth and move the other states to their own circuit.

California’s Democratic senators have fiercely opposed such bills. And environmental groups have charged that splitting the Ninth Circuit is really an effort to gerrymander the court.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz