I find it interesting that the Ninth Circuit Court is in the news today for two separate reasons. The first, of course, is the emergency appeal of the restraining order against President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order. The second reason is that Alaska’s junior Senator Dan Sullivan is trying to split up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
This is not the first time that Republicans have tried to split this particular court as numerous attempts have been made over the years and annually during the administration of President George W. Bush. The attempt to do so has been going on for decades. Even though the court is “overloaded and overly liberal,” Democrats vote against splitting it.
Senator Sullivan and Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) “have introduced two bills.” The first bill “establishes a commission to study the appeals court system and find a quick and effective way to divide up the 9th Circuit’s caseload.” The second bill “would split the court into two: the 9th Circuit and a newly created 12th Circuit. The 9th Circuit would include California, Guam, Hawaii and the Northern Mariana Islands. The new circuit would include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.”
Senator Sullivan claims, “The population of the Ninth Circuit is nearly 85 percent bigger than the next largest circuit and covers 40 percent of our country’s land mass.” In addition, “It is simply too large, its scope is too wide, and it has long passed its ability to provide equal access to justice under the law.” It also has a lot of cases concerning immigration, endangered species, and public land.
The Senator once clerked for the Ninth Circuit, so he knows from first-hand knowledge the difficulties of working with the overload. Even though either bill has a slim chance of passing the Senate, President Donald Trump can still change the makeup of the court by nominating conservatives to fill the four vacancies on the court.