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Senate Judiciary Committee debates proposal to split 9th Circuit

[JURIST] Republican senators continued a long-running effort to build support for breaking up the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] into two circuits during a US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] subcommitee hearing [witness list and prepared statements] Wednesday. A bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) [official websites] would split the circuit into two, with one containing California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, and the other containing the remaining states. Proponents of the idea have argued that the circuit's caseload has grown too unwieldy for the current court structure; the circuit hears about triple the cases of the nationwide circuit court average. Many opponents, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [official website], have called the proposal politically motivated due to the 9th Circuit's reputation as a liberal circuit. Of eight judges who testified at the hearing, three supported splitting the circuit into two. Republicans have long sought such legislation, with the House approving a measure last fall [JURIST report] that failed to make it past the Senate. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. introduced a similar bill [JURIST report] in the House last week. The Los Angeles Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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