The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has been in the headlines this week because of the riveting decision tasked to a three-judge panel regarding the White House’s now-blocked travel ban. But the storied court in San Francisco is certainly no stranger to America’s front page news.
Not only has the legendary Ninth Circuit got the most districts and the most judges, but it also hears by far the most cases. The docket is a monster.
Currently, the court has appellate jurisdiction over the 13 district courts in seven western states, plus Hawaii and Alaska. It also has jurisdiction over Guam and the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Sidney Runyan Thomas is chief judge of this huge circuit, which currently has 29 active judgeships. Of those, 68 percent were appointed by Democratic presidents – which lends to its reputation for liberalism. It was established in 1869 and is headquartered in the historic James R. Browning Building (court house and post office). The building itself is magnificent. The design is influenced heavily by Italian Renaissance style, lavish with white Sierra granite and described as palatial. In 1906, when an earthquake devastated the city, the courthouse remained standing.