WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley introduced legislation to ease pressure on the heavy workloads on the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals, which are two of the busiest circuit courts in the country.
“This bill is a step towards rectifying the great workload disparities between the circuit courts. It’s a common sense bill and moves judges to where they are needed. It saves the taxpayers’ money. It won’t affect President Obama’s current nominee, Mr. Srinivasan. And because the bill would become effective upon enactment, President Obama would still have the opportunity to nominate two of those circuit court vacancies,” Grassley said.
Grassley’s legislation would add a seat to both the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts and remove three seats from the D.C. Circuit Court. Currently, the D.C. Circuit has 108 appeals filed per authorized judgeship, the lowest in the nation. By contrast, the Second Circuit has 425 appeals filed per authorized judgeship and the Eleventh Circuit, the busiest appeals court in the country has 583 appeals filed per authorized judgeship.
If Grassley’s legislation were enacted, the caseload would decrease by 7.5 percent in the Second and Eleventh Circuits. At the same time, even after removing three seats from the D.C. Circuit, the workload of the D.C. circuit would remain among the lowest in the country.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake.
Here is a copy of Grassley’s remarks that were inserted into the Senate Record upon introduction.
Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
The Court Efficiency Act
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Today I am introducing the Court Efficiency Act, a bill that will help some of the nation’s busiest courts. Hopefully, it will also ease some of the tension that arises during debates of D.C. Circuit Court nominees. I am pleased that Senators Hatch, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, Lee, Cruz, and Flake are original co-sponsors.
It is no secret that the D.C. Circuit is the least-busy, least-worked appellate court in the nation. By nearly every measurement taken by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the D.C. Circuit comes in a distant last. Here are three of the most common measurements using the most recent data available for the 12-months ending September 30, 2012.
First, “Total Appeals Filed.” Total Appeals Filed measures the amount of work coming into the court. Simply put, it is the total number of appeals that a circuit court received in the last 12 months. The D.C. Circuit has 108 appeals per authorized judgeship, the lowest in the nation. To put this in perspective, the Second Circuit is 4 times higher and the Eleventh Circuit, the busiest in the nation, is more than five times as high, with 583 appeals filed per authorized judge.
Next, “Total Appeals Terminated” measures the amount of work the court is accomplishing. Once again, the D.C. Circuit is by far the lowest in the nation with 108 total appeals terminated per authorized judgeship. By comparison, the Second Circuit is 4 times higher and the Eleventh Circuit is 5 times higher, at 540 appeals terminated per authorized judgeship.
Finally, “Total Appeals Pending” measures the amount of work before the court. In other words, it is the number of appeals the court hasn’t yet addressed or the cases that are outstanding. The D.C. Circuit has 120 appeals pending per authorized judgeship, which means it is essentially tied for last with the Tenth Circuit that has 115. In contrast, the Second Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit have 343 and 323 appeals pending per authorized judgeship, respectively.
Back during President Bush’s administration, my friends on the other side of the aisle cited the light work load of that court in order to block qualified, non-controversial nominees. Since that time, the D.C. Circuit Court workload has only continued to decrease.
Considering the imbalance between the workloads of the Circuits, my bill essentially reallocates those vacancies to other circuits that are much busier. The Court Efficiency Act does four things. First, it adds one seat to the Second Circuit. Second, it adds one seat to the Eleventh Circuit. Third, it reduces the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8. Fourth, it would become effective upon enactment.
Adopting this bill would be a step towards rectifying the great workload disparities between the circuit courts. The Court Efficiency Act would ease some of the pressure on the Second and Eleventh circuits. By moving just one judgeship each to the Second and Eleventh circuits, we would lower each circuit’s respective workload by approximately 7.5%. This reduction can be accomplished without jeopardizing the D.C. Circuit’s status as the “least-busy Circuit.” Even after the D.C. Circuit is reduced to 8 seats, it would still be roughly half as busy as the Circuit median in appeals filed, terminated, and pending per authorized judgeship.
I would also like to highlight several things that this bill will not do. First, it would not impact the President’s current nominee to the D.C. Circuit, Mr. Srinivasan, whose hearing occurred earlier today. Instead, for the remaining three seats, it removes one and reallocates the other two.
Second, the bill would not affect the president’s opportunity to nominate two of those Circuit court vacancies. It simply reassigns those vacancies to other circuits that are clearly busier.
Third, this legislation will be effective immediately, rather than postponing until the beginning of the next presidential term, as has been in the past. Immediate enactment will empower the President to quickly act to alleviate some of the heavy workloads of the Second and Eleventh Circuits.
The bill will also save the taxpayer a significant amount of money annually. Although the bill has not been scored yet by the CBO, this estimate is based on previous estimates offered by the CBO when it has scored judgeship bills.
The last time the D.C. Circuit had 11 nominees was the end of 1999. I want to move past the disagreements over the D.C. Circuit and shift these judges to circuits where there is a greater need to fill them.
Mr. President, this is a common sense bill. It moves judges to where they are needed, a significant step in addressing the severe imbalance in the workloads of some of these circuit courts. It saves the taxpayers money. It doesn’t negatively impact the D.C. Circuit Court. It won’t affect President Obama’s current nominee, Mr. Srinivasan. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of this bill be printed in the Record.