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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho), Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have reintroduced the Judicial Reorganization Act, S. 2970, to split the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in order to allow for more efficient caseload processing. 

“When the Ninth Circuit Court serves nearly twice the number of people as the next-largest judicial circuit and carries five times the case backlog of the average circuit, then it should be clear to anyone with a calculator that the Ninth is overdue to be split,” said Risch. “Restructuring the Ninth Circuit will result in more manageable caseloads and allow the courts to more closely mirror the populations they serve.”

“As a result of massive population growth across several western states, the Ninth Circuit has seen an overwhelming increase in caseloads, creating a lengthy process for those seeking justice,” said Crapo. “Splitting the Ninth Circuit would provide for a more expedient route to justice for many individuals in the West.”   

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest in the nation with over nine states and two territorial courts, decides an extensive number of appeals annually, and accounts for nearly a third of all pending federal appeals. It takes an average of 13 months to decide a case, which is almost five months more than the national average. 

Idaho is currently part of the Ninth Circuit and its judges have influence over Western issues that affect Idahoans. The Judicial Reorganization Act would split the Ninth Circuit in two, establishing a new Twelfth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit would include California, Guam, and Hawaii, while the new Twelfth Circuit would consist of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. S. 2970 would also authorize an additional five circuit court judge seats, allocating 21 to the new Ninth and 13 to the Twelfth to align with population size. 

Text of the bill can be found here. 

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