U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador. R-Idaho is lauding a House committee’s passage of a bill Thursday to add 52 new federal district judgeships, including one in Idaho.
Labrador, who introduced a bill to add a new Idaho federal district judge in February of 2017 — one month after Idaho’s 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson introduced an identical bill, and two weeks after U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho introduced an identical measure in the Senate — claimed credit for Thursday’s committee vote.
“Since I first joined the Judiciary Committee in 2013, I have advocated publicly and behind the scenes for a third U.S. District judge for Idaho,” Labrador said in a news release. “Working closely with Chairman Goodlatte, I introduced legislation that would address this issue and I secured his commitment to get a vote on it. The bill we passed today delivers on that promise, and I am gratified we could make it happen.”
Simpson has introduced his bill every two years for more than a decade.
Simpson’s press secretary, Nikki Watts, said, “The need is great, and he is extremely appreciative that the House Judiciary Committee included an additional judge in the legislation.”
Idaho’s congressional delegation has long pushed to add a third U.S. District judge to the state; Idaho is one of only three states with just two authorized federal district judges. The other two are North Dakota and Vermont.
The bill that cleared the committee on Thursday, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is co-sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. George Holding, R-N.C. To become law, it still would need approval from the full House and Senate and the president’s signature.
Issa’s bill, in addition to adding 52 new permanent district court judgeships to address rising caseloads, would also convert eight existing temporary district court judgeships to permanent status; upgrade technology for the federal court system’s electronic records system; require Internet video streaming of appellate arguments for circuit courts; require same-day Internet audio streaming for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, something the high court long has resisted; and require public disclosure of the reasons for a recusal by a justice of the Supreme Court.
Issa said his bill would bring “important reforms to court operations.” In a statement posted on the Judiciary Committee website, he said, “In addition to adding new judges, these measures will bring more transparency to courts and make court documents more accessible.”
Labrador, in his news release, said, “‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is more than an old adage. The federal courts are essential to our system of government and delay has dire consequences. HR 6755 will help the Idaho courts significantly by giving them more resources to ensure fairness and efficiency.”
That measure would authorize the 52 new federal judgeships as of Jan. 22, 2021.
Idaho got its second federal judgeship in 1954 when its population hit 600,000; the state’s population is now just over 1.7 million, according to the U.S. Census.