Senate panel holds hearing on bill to create new federal judgeships

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — A hearing on legislation that would create 91 new federal judgeships in two federal circuits and 32 federal districts across 21 states was held Tuesday before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts conducted a hearing on Senate Bill 1385, also known as the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013.
Witnesses included Judge Timothy Tymkovich, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and chair of the Standing Committee on Judicial Resources for the U.S. Judicial Conference; Judge Sue Robinson, for the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware; Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice; and Michael Reed, chair of the Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements for the American Bar Association and partner at Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton.
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, who is chairman of the subcommittee, presided over the hearing.
Coons, D-Del., also is the co-sponsor of the legislation, which was introduced in July. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also sponsored the bill.
Both Coons and Leahy have said they based their Federal Judgeship Act on recommendations of the nonpartisan Judicial Conference, which is headed up by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“Congress has left the judicial staffing of our federal courts essentially unchanged for 23 years, despite rapidly growing caseloads,” Coons said in July. “This bill would provide much-needed relief to our overburdened courts, ensuring that they are better prepared to administer justice quickly and efficiently.
“Increasing the number judgeships will help cases move more quickly, reduce uncertainty preventing businesses from creating jobs, and permit every American who has been wronged to get their day in court.”
Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, agreed.
“Federal judges are working harder than ever, but in order to maintain the integrity of the federal courts and the expediency that justice demands, judges must have a manageable workload,” he said in July.
“This good government bill will improve the effectiveness of our federal courts and provide federal judges with the resources to promptly render the justice that Americans so desperately need and deserve.”
Per the Judicial Conference’s recommendations, the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 creates five permanent judgeships and one temporary judgeship to the courts of appeals; creates 65 permanent judgeships and 20 temporary judgeships to the district courts; and gives permanent status to eight temporary district court judgeships.
Coons and Leahy point to a letter from Judicial Conference Secretary Thomas Hogan in April:
“Nationwide, our Article III district courts have experienced a 38 percent growth in caseload since 1990 (the last time Congress passed a comprehensive judgeship bill) while seeing only a 4 percent increase in judgeships during this same period of time,” Hogan wrote.
“This situation has created enormous difficulties for many of our courts across the nation.”
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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