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New House bill would split Ninth Circuit, add federal judges

[JURIST] Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) [official profile], chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website], introduced new legislation Thursday to split the US Ninth Ciruit that would create a new US Twelfth Circuit Court of Appeals covering Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Under the Federal Judgeship and Administrative Efficiency Act of 2005 (HR 4093) [text not yet published] a reduced Ninth Circuit would serve California, Guam, Hawaii, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Following recommendations made by the US Judicial Conference [official website], the bill would also authorize the President to appoint five permanent and two temporary judges to the new Ninth Circuit who would sit in California. The legislation also calls for 12 new circuit court seats and 56 new district court seats, as well as 24 new bankruptcy judgeships. Said Sensenbrenner: “The Ninth has become so big -- in geographic size, in workload, in number of active and senior judges - that it can no longer appropriately discharge its civic functions on behalf of the American people." Splitting the sometimes-controversial and often relatively-liberal Ninth Circuit has been proposed before; the House approved a similar proposal [JURIST report] last October before it was quashed in the Senate. Read the House Judiciary Committee press release.

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