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Will the 2nd Circuit Get Another Judge?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 18, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals stays busy. And, even though it's fully staffed, the existing lineup could use an extra body on the bench to review the hefty caseload.

But Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a plan: the Court Efficiency Act.

The bill, S. 699, would take three seats away from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and add one seat to both the Second and Eleventh Circuits.

According to a statement from Sen. Grassley's office, "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."

Grassley's plan would decrease the Second and Eleventh Circuits' caseloads by 7.5 percent. While his office has not indicated how much the D.C. Circuit judges' caseloads would increase, it claims that the workload would remain "among the lowest in the country."

The plan sounds like a winner from a numbers standpoint. Critics, however, argue that Grassley is just trying to preserve a conservative majority on the D.C. Circuit by eliminating seats to which President Obama could nominate liberal judges. Ian Millhiser, writing at, offers a different prospective on the numbers Grassley cited as support for his proposal:

While it is true that the DC Circuit's caseload is relatively small in terms of raw numbers, Grassley's statistics are highly misleading. Unlike other federal courts of appeal, the DC Circuit hears an unusually large number of major regulatory and national security cases, many of which require very specialized legal research, involve intensely long records, and take more time for a judge to process than four or five normal cases of the kinds heard in other circuits.

Do you think the Second Circuit deserves another judge more than the D.C. Circuit? Do you care whether Sen. Grassley's given reason for the Court Efficiency Act is just a pretext? Let us know on Facebook or Google+.

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