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Featured Series: Redistrict the U.S. Court of Appeals (Basic Math)

November 17th, 2015
Featured Series:  Redistrict the U.S. Court of Appeals (Basic Math)

It is evident in 2015 that the hyper-partisan Far-Left is utterly indifferent to the noble principles of one-man-one vote and judgment by one’s peers—despite the Left’s incessant advertisements thereto.  Appealing to their better nature is wasted effort.

If the death grip of the Far-Left upon this nation’s federal judiciary is ever to be lessened, our arguments must rest upon financial concerns.  All of us know, both Left and Right alike, that the current public debt and operational federal deficits cannot be sustained in perpetuity.

Arguments to “realign” the federal circuits must focus upon rational expenditures.  By way of example, in the 9th U.S. Circuit, Humbolt County, Nevada encompasses 9,648 square miles.  By comparison, the State of Vermont in the U.S. 2nd Circuit spans all of 9,623 square miles…smaller by 25 full sections.

circuithumbolt

The District of Nevada boasts of two federal court houses—the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Reno and the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas.  As for Humbolt County…nothing beyond a long drive.

In Vermont, however, three (3) federal courthouses operate—in Burlington, Rutland and Brattleboro.  Further, the population in the District of Vermont is estimated at 627,000 souls all told.  Nevada’s is 2,839,000…4.5 times more than Vermont’s.

In Vermont, two U.S. District judges preside with an entourage in train through the three judicial manors in that State.  In Nevada, seven judges preside in two busy federal courthouses.  Simple division indicates each Nevada District Judge is assigned to 405 thousand people in the seventh largest state in the nation.  In diminutive Vermont, the 45th largest state, that judicial assignment is relatively leisurely at 313 thousand…29% fewer than their compatriots out West.

circuitvermontsize

As for Idaho, we have two U.S. District judgeships; but only one judge is presently assigned—Judge Lynn Winmill.  With Idaho’s population at 1.634 million, this implies that the “rationale” by the federal court system is that even if the federal district judges were filled, the expected assignment in Idaho is one judge per 817 thousand citizens…well above either Nevada or Vermont.  And pity Judge Winmill alone.

In 2014, the District of Nevada had north of 3500 federal cases filed, and it terminated nearly 3,700 federal cases on the docket.  By comparison, in 2014 the District of Vermont had just over 500 federal cases filed, and it terminated about 525 from the docket.

In other words, the District of Nevada is taking on about seven times the caseload as the District of Vermont.  These numbers are not comparable.  A screen clip of this comparison (extracted from ballotpedia.com) demonstrates this caseload disparity.

circuitnvvtNot in area, not in population…and not in caseload…can the overhead of operating three federal courthouses in the District of Vermont be justified.  CP-Idaho submits that two of the operating federal courthouses in Vermont need to be shuttered.  Overhead savings alone would not be inconsiderable, especially in redundant staff.

This obvious conclusion of course escaped the Armageddon-like claims of Judge Julia S. Gibbons, chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee in “testimony” before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on March 25, 2015.

Judge Gibbons repeated a now well-worn ubiquitous request for increased appropriations in fiscal year 2016 for the federal courts, asking for a 3.9% annual budget increase…in other words a cool $7 billion more in annual discretionary funding for the courts, plus…a jack in pay up to $134 per hour.

A conflict of interest is self evident.  Nowhere in the “testimony” of Judge Gibbons (a presiding judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit), was any attempt to rationalize expenditures made.

This brief comparison of Nevada versus Vermont demonstrates the basic approach that is necessary.  The federal judiciary has not rationalized its expenditures…nor has it justified the existing federal circuit boundaries.  Its math does not add up.

We will have more to say about rationalization next.

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