Three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not the same three involved in the decision to uphold an injunction against President Trump's ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations last month testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday to argue that their 29-judge court not be split up, as has been proposed multiple times by Republicans. The latest proposals, of which there are now four according to the Associated Press, have gained steam under the Republican-controlled Congress, particularly after those three judges weighed in on the immigration/travel ban.
The Ninth Circuit is the largest appeals court in the country, and lawmakers, primarily on the right, have argued for decades that it has gotten too large, given that its jurisdiction (including the western states of California, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands) was established when the west was far less densely populated, back in 1891.
One bill, introduced in January by Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, would carve up the Ninth Circuit into two court circuits, creating a new Twelfth Circuit that would include Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Alaska, with the Ninth holding on to just California, Oregon, and Hawaii. Flake's argument has been, and was again today, that the court's docket has become too large and justice comes too slow.
The judges who testified today were Chief Justice of the Ninth Circuit Sidney Thomas, who is based in Billings, Montana and is a Clinton appointee; Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee based in Pasadena, California; and San Francisco-based Judge Carlos Bea, appointed by George W. Bush.
You can watch the whole hearing on video below, if you have that kind of time, but per the AP, Judge Thomas testified that "Circuit division would have a devastating effect on the administration of justice in the western United States. [And] A circuit split would increase delay, reduce access to justice, and waste taxpayer dollars."
Judge Bea said, "I think you should take into consideration the views of people on the ground the litigants, practitioners and judges in the circuit. The overwhelming majority of the people directly involved is against a split of the Circuit."
Multiple attempts to split up the Ninth Circuit have failed over the decades dating back to the 1940's, and today New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat on the committee, said, "Like clockwork, we see proposals to split up the 9th Circuit whenever it delivers a controversial decision with which conservatives disagree."