Daines Reaffirms Importance of Splitting the Ninth Circuit

“We need to ensure all Americans have access to the justice they deserve. It’s time to split the Ninth.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines recently took to the Senate floor to bring to light the crushing caseload of the Ninth Circuit and reaffirm the need to split the Ninth Circuit to provide quality service and expeditious justice for the American people. 

Click here to download Daines’ remarks.

Click here to watch Daines’ remarks. 

Daines joined Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) last night to discuss their two recently introduced bills to address failures in America’s system of justice by restructuring the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which, because of its size and scope, denies citizens in its jurisdiction equal access to justice.   

Daines’ full remarks as prepared are below:

“Thank you to the junior senator from Alaska. 

“I appreciate him joining me in this important effort and the leadership he has demonstrated on the issue.

“As the junior Senator from Alaska knows, the Ninth Circuit Court is broken. 

“It’s overburdened and unable to provide quality service and expeditious justice to the Americans it is suppose to serve. 

“As I frequently tell my staff, we’re ultimately in the customer service business. As U.S. Senators, our number one job is to represent and serve the people of our states. 

“Our Courts should reflect the same servant mentality as they uphold their responsibility to justice.

“But when our courts are overburdened and overworked, Americans are left underserved and waiting too long for justice.

“Unfortunately, under its the current structure, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is unable to provide western Americans with the service they deserve.

“Take a look at this chart behind me. 

“At 64.4 million people served, the current Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit by population, as well as the largest land area.

“It includes Montana and Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, California, and Hawaii – not to mention several U.S. territories (Guam and Northern Mariana Islands).

“That amounts to 20 percent of the nation’s population.

“To put it in context, that’s 85 percent larger than the next largest circuit, which serves just 34.8 million people. 

“Needless to say, the Ninth Circuit’s caseload is significantly greater than any other circuit – and that means backlogs and delays.

“But not only is it larger—it’s disproportionately larger. 

“On average, the Ninth Circuit has had more than 32 percent of all cases pending nationally.

“It currently has about 14,200 (2014 number) cases pending.

“As you can see in the chart behind me, that’s three times more than the next closest circuit, the Fifth Circuit, which has around 4,600 cases currently pending. 

“Processing all of these cases takes time – on average over the last 5 years, 14.7 months from appeal to termination. 

“It’s time to take a serious look at how our court system can better serve the American people.

“That’s why Senator Sullivan and I have introduced two separate bills to address these challenges. 

“Our bills would bring much-needed reform not just to the Ninth Circuit, but also to the entire Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals system.

“The Circuit Court of Appeals Restructuring and Modernization Act would split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals into two circuits – providing a more manageable balance of population and geography for both circuits, so that western Americans can be better served by our courts.

“The Federal Courts of Appeals Modernization Act would establish a commission to study the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals system and identify changes needed to promote an “expeditious and effective disposition” of the Ninth Circuit caseload.  

“Keep in mind – 

“When we split the circuits into a new Ninth Circuit and a Twelfth Circuit – the Ninth Circuit would still have a much larger caseload than any other circuit. 

“In the new Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, there would be 40.8 million people – maintaining it’s current status as first in population. 

“In the Twelfth Circuit’s jurisdiction, there would be 24.3 million – making it seventh in population among the circuits.  

“Those numbers alone should make it clear that reforms are needed. 

“And it’s worth remembering that the challenges facing the Ninth Circuit have been long-standing. And efforts to find solutions are bi-partisan.

“Two prior commissions —one in 1973 and the other in 1998, which was championed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein— 

“Both determined that the Ninth Circuit had an overly-burdensome size and scope and suggested that changes needed to be made to the structure of the federal courts of appeal.

“It’s time to move forward concrete solutions to address this problem —the bills introduced by the junior senator from Alaska and myself will do so.

“We need to ensure all Americans have access to the justice they deserve. It’s time to split the Ninth.”