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

November 15th, 2015
Featured Series:  Redistrict the U.S. Court of Appeals (Introduction)

Appellate redistricting has been a long standing concern to Idaho and the Inland Empire states.  Calls to redistrict the U.S. Circuits date back a century.  In 1891, concurrent with Idaho’s admission into the union, calls to split the 9th U.S. Circuit were heard.

Congress, with some regularity, returns to redistricting the Court of Appeals every decade or so.  Recent appellate redistricting proposals (c. 2002-2005) have focused exclusively on the 9th U.S. Circuit, in which Idaho is placed.  This point is important to establish.

CP-Idaho’s call to redistrict the federal courts is not radically new.  However, our proposal differs in one key aspect—we propose a redistricting of the entire U.S. Court of Appeals nationwide, and not just the 9th U.S. Circuit.  The proposal is not, nor should it be,  ideologically based.  Redistricting is a matter of equitable justice and efficiency…long overdue.

First, little question exists that, as currently configured, the U.S 9th Circuit cannot be considered to be a peer to other U.S. Circuits. Statistical extremes have routinely been pointed to by proponents of splitting the 9th Circuit.

circuit9large

In geographical expanse alone, the 9th U.S. Circuit dwarfs all others.  Its area is larger than the 5th, the 7th, the 8th and the 10th U.S. Circuits combined (outlined above)!  To say that the 9th U.S. Circuit is unwieldy is an understatement.

Worse, in terms of population, the 9th U.S. Circuit contains nearly 20% of the entire U.S. population.  Its population is certainly not equitable to the other U.S. Circuits.  As the following chart shows, all appellate court circuits (with the exception of the 1st U.S. Circuit and the 9th U.S. Circuit), are within a range of +1 or -1 deviations from the mean.  The 1st U.S. Circuit is close to one standard deviation below average.  Not so the population of the 9th U.S. Circuit.  It approaches three deviations above average population…it is not even close to the mean.   Its population is clearly un-comparable.

What this means is that the legal culture of California, via the decisions of the San Francisco based U.S. 9th Circuit, wield a disproportional influence over the entire nation…and not just the unfortunate Inland Empire states who find themselves in such a gargantuan and intractable judicial district. 

circuitpopulation

It would be one thing if the decisions of the 9th U.S. Circuit were prudent and legally well crafted.  But they are not. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit has the highest rate of reversed judicial decisions by the Supreme Court in the entire U.S. judicial system.  For example, in 2011 it was noted that the Supreme Court rejected five straight decisions of the 9th U.S. Circuit without a single affirmative vote by any of the Justices.  A difficult feat, to be sure.  The 9th U.S. Circuit’s rate of reversal has approached +73%!  Each one at a mounting fiscal cost.

Justice Kennedy was particularly pointed in a 2011 case.   Said Kennedy:  “Confidence in the writ and the law it vindicates is undermined if there is a judicial disregard for the sound and established principles that inform its proper issuance.  That judicial disregard is inherent in the opinion of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

Those words by a Justice to his fellow judges are strong indeed…but not unwarranted.  Cited by the Alaska Bar Association in 2003, a Wall Street Journal article noted that the 9th U.S. Circuit is inclined to issue “bunker buster” opinions to the national psyche. As the Journal  article noted, the 9th U.S. Circuit is an “ongoing spectacle”. 

In introductory remarks to Senate Bill on March 6, 2003 aimed at redistricting the 9th U.S. Circuit, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said the 9th U.S. Circuit is a “dysfunctional” court, one that is “out-of-touch with American jurisprudence, common sense and constitutional values.”  We agree.

Further, we cannot help but note that if these kinds of statistical disparities were observed in other governmental or social systems more in the favor of the Far-Left, a ceaseless hue and cry for new federal franchises and imposed quotas would resound from sea to sea. That it does not raise so much as a whimper of protest from Liberals regarding what is a fundamental and unalienable right to peer justice here in the West, implies their systemic hypocrisy…and worse. 

CP-Idaho believes that this stranglehold must be pried open.  The Far-Left’s judicial death-grip must be released.  Toward that end, we will offer a series of website articles.  We hope these will provide the Constitution Party at large with the kind of information that is necessary to forge credible judicial reform…to cut the chains and set free the Western way of life.

The United States Court of Appeals must be redistricted.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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