They are not your grandfather’s federal circuit courts

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7 Responses

  1. Orin Kerr says:

    I look forward to your blogging.

    One reaction, if I may: Even if sitting judges can “simply ask for more judges,” why do you think that would actually lead to more judges? In the current environment of judicial nominations, Senators not in the party of the President will strongly oppose any proposal to increase the size of the federal judiciary. These days, confirming a single non-controversial district court judge requires a lot of effort. Given that, it’s not clear to me that having the blessing of sitting judges would make that much of a difference.

  2. William Reynolds says:

    Orin. I understand the difficulty with getting judges confirmed today. The problem is that the judicial establishment has not asked for more judges for over thirty years. Why not? A later blog will address this, but the short answer is that the judges like the current situation. In any event, they should make an effort to alleviate the situation

  3. Orin Kerr says:

    Judges don’t want more judges because it would hurt their power and prestige: More judges means less power and prestige per judge. But my point is just that it’s not clear that the judges’ views actually matters all that much to how many judges there are.

  4. You’re mostly right, Orin. But the judges should have been asking for more long ago; and they did not

  5. Guest says:

    What do you mean by “the vast majority of decisions are rendered by central staff”? Are you referring to basic administrative matters like scheduling, whether to accept a document for filing, or how to something should be docketed? Other than those types of things, I’ve never heard of any decision in a federal circuit court being rendered by anyone other than one or more judges.

  6. Thwe number of federal circuit clerks–staff clerks– exceeds the number of elbow clerks. What do you think they are doing? Ample evidence supports the statement, as well

  7. Guest says:

    Based on their output, it appears to me a lot of them are doing basic screening, scheduling, case management work, and handling other administrative work concerning the various details involved in moving a case along. A good number do the same basic work as elbow clerks, but with respect to habeas, death penalty cases, or cases brought by pro se litigants.

    It’s possible, of course, to lose your appeal by failing to meet some basic requirement, like paying the filing fee or obtaining a certificate of appealability. And I suppose it could be said that a clerk who determines that someone didn’t do those things can be said to be “rendering decisions,” in a sense. But that isn’t what most of us think of when we think of courts rendering decisions.

    I wonder if instead of “rendering decisions” you meant something else, like “drafting orders” or “influencing how judges render decisions”?