My proposal to split the Ninth Circuit, in light of Senior United States Circuit Judge O'Scannlain's testimony today

Included at the link is a link to 59 pages of Senior United States Circuit Judge O’Scannlain’s testimony regarding the Ninth Circuit.

I have long advocated for a split of the 9th Circuit. It is not unprecedented in any way. The old 8th Circuit was divided into the modern 8th Circuit and modern 10th Circuit in the 1920’s. The old 5th Circuit was divided into the modern 5th Circuit and modern 11th Circuit in 1981. In both cases, the original circuits had become unwieldy.

Frankly, only political concerns stand in the way of something that should be done for a purely logical, non-political reason.

I would create three circuits from the current 9th Circuit.

  1. The new 9th Circuit, which would include only the State of California and its 4 Judicial Districts (Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central).

  2. The new 12th Circuit, which would include the States of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, plus Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

  3. The new 13th Circuit, which would include the States of Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

The current 9th Circuit has 29 judgeships, I propose to add a total of 5 judgeships during the split, for a grand total of 34.

  1. The new 9th Circuit would have 20 total judgeships, including 16 that are currently stationed in California, plus 4 new judgeships.

  2. The new 12th Circuit would have 6 total judgeships, including 1 currently stationed in Alaska, 1 currently stationed in Hawaii, 2 currently stationed in Oregon and 2 currently stationed in Washington.

  3. The new 13th Circuit would have 8 total judgeships, including 3 currently stationed in Arizona, 1 currently stationed in Idaho, 1 new judgeship to be created in Idaho, 1 currently stationed in Montana and 2 currently stationed in Nevada.

Current active status judges would be assigned to the circuit corresponding to the State in which they are stationed. Senior status judges could elect their circuit assignment.

California should be its own circuit. It hosts 4 District Courts and the Central District of California is second only to the Southern District of New York in number of cases. While the new 9th would still be the largest circuit in the land, it would now be geographically compact and would be capable of holding true en banc proceedings when needed, rather than the limited en banc panels currently used.

The new 12th & 13th Circuits would both be geographically expansive, but would be among the smallest in number of judges and caseloads, thus they could operate efficiently.

Since Trump has evidently brought this up again, I will bump this thread for sake of convenience.

I support a split of the Ninth Circuit, but NOT for Trump’s reasoning.

I would also point out to to Trump that you would still have ALL THE EXISTING Judges, just spread out over three circuits rather than confined to one.

I would note that the Ninth Circuit is NOT the most overturned, i believe that honor currently belongs to the Third Circuit, followed by the Sixth, Eleventh and Federal.

My reasons for splitting the Ninth Circuit are based in the interest of Justice and efficiency. The Ninth Circuit currently uses a limited en banc procedure that makes it impossible to gauge consensus on the circuit. The Ninth Circuit is both heavy population and geographically expansive, making it exceedingly difficult to bring together all 29 Judges.

As I describe in the OP post of this thread, I would create three circuits.

The new 9th Circuit would consist ONLY of California, but with 20 Judges would still be the most sizable Circuit in the nation. But since the Judges would be clustered at Los Angeles or San Francisco, video conferencing would be a relatively trivial matter permitting true en banc proceedings to be held.

The new 12th and 13th Circuits would have 6 and 8 Judges, respectfully. They are geographically expansive, but it would be a relatively trivial matter for Judges to teleconference whether in 3 Judge panels or en banc.

AGAIN, EXACT SAME JUDGES. Just three Circuits instead of one. More efficiency.

I like it. A lot.

Trump names the additional five.

The nice thing about that is that the result would be a relatively “balanced” circuit, not too far left, not too far right.


And there’s the real reasoning behind wanting to split up the 9th. So when the next Democrat president “balances” the 11th and 5th districts, you guys will all be cool with it? After all, the 11th has the highest population to judge ratio of any circuit court. It’s due for some balancing as well.

The issue of splitting the Ninth Circuit and adding new Judges are separate.

I support adding additional Judges to the Ninth Circuit whether it remains whole or is split.

The other Circuits do not need new Judgeships.

Splitting the Ninth Circuit has nothing to do with judicial balance, as it can be done without adding new Judgeships and would not alter the overall balance of Judges.

Splitting the Ninth Circuit is justified from an efficiency standpoint.

Yeah! What he said!


I would note that the non-partisan Judicial Conference of the United States calls for 5 new Judgeships for the Ninth Circuit.

But for people who are concerned, the issue of new Judgeships can be divorced from the issue of splitting up the Ninth Circuit.

Efficiency? How would splitting up the 9th make things more efficient?

I would have thought I explained that abundantly in the first two posts of this thread.

Just as a matter of common sense, fewer Judges can act more efficiently than many. Most of California’s appellate judges are grouped in or near Los Angeles or San Francisco. By carving California out as its own Circuit, you eliminate the need for those already busy Judges to handle far away cases in Phoenix, Honolulu, Anchorage, Billings, etc.

The two new Circuits would be geographically large, but would be low population. Since their would be few Judges, they could easily handle the limited caseload via teleconferencing.

I would also point out that we have done this TWICE in the past without controversy. The old Eighth Circuit was split into the current Eighth Circuit and current Tenth Circuit in the 1920’s. The old Fifth Circuit was split into the current Fifth Circuit and current Eleventh Circuit in the early 1980’s.

This shouldn’t even be controversial, it should be a matter of simple common sense.

The 9th is already subdivided into three divisions. Cases from the northern geographic region are heard in Seattle or Portland. Cases from central areas are heard in San Francisco. Cases from the southern region are heard in Pasadena. Judges are stationed at courts and divided between them to even out caseloads.

So again, how would splitting up the 9th circuit, which already allocates cases geographically and assigns judges to even out caseloads make things more efficient?

Yeah! What you said ! :fist_right:

What the heck is Montana doing in the Ninth Circuit anyway? It should be in the 10th

The Circuits as they exist today were roughly laid out in 1866 after the Civil War. Not sure how Montana ended up in the Ninth, while Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming all ended up in the old 8th Circuit (now the 8th & 10th Circuits). There is a case to be made for swapping some States between circuits.