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The Federal Judicial Center: "An Act To provide for the establishment of a Federal Judicial Center, and for other purposes."
81 Stat. 664.
December 20, 1967.
The establishment of a separate agency that would conduct research and educational programs for the federal courts marked a further development in the judiciary’s institutional independence. The Federal Judicial Center was established by Congress on the recommendation of Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the judiciary who hoped that regular programs of research and education would improve the efficiency of the federal courts and relieve the backlog of cases in the lower courts. Governed by its own board, the Federal Judicial Center offered the courts the benefits of independent social science research and educational programs designed to improve judicial administration.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Judicial Conference and the Administrative Office increasingly commissioned research projects to examine problems of judicial administration at the same time that they organized educational programs to help judges manage growing and complicated caseloads. These research and educational programs, however, received no permanent staff or funding. Support for an institutionalized program of judicial research and education increased after the establishment of 60 new district judgeships in 1961 demonstrated that the number of judges alone would not solve all of the problems of overworked courts. A growing number of judges and members of the bar urged the judiciary to establish the formal means to bring improved research and education to the courts.
At the suggestion of Chief Justice Warren, the Judicial Conference in 1966 authorized a committee to examine the research and education requirements of the judiciary. Former Justice Stanley Reed agreed to Warren’s request to chair the committee. Before the Judicial Conference adopted the Reed committee’s recommendation for establishment of a Federal Judicial Center, President Johnson, at Warren’s request, decided to include the proposal in his highly-publicized message on crime in February 1967. Bills to create the Center were soon submitted in both houses of Congress. With broad support for the concept of a research and education center for the judiciary, discussion in the House and Senate hearings centered on questions about the proper institutional form and leadership for the Center.
The Reed Committee and the director of the Administrative Office, among others, advocated an independent agency with its own governing board to which the Center director would report. The goal was to protect the research and education resources from being absorbed into strictly administrative duties and to insure the objectivity of research. The Federal Judicial Center’s board consists of the Chief Justice, a rotating group of judges selected by the Judicial Conference, and the director of the Administrative Office; no member of the Judicial Conference was to serve on the Center’s board. The statute authorizes the Center to conduct and support research on the operation of the courts, to offer education and training for judges and court personnel, and to assist and advise the Judicial Conference on matters related to the administration and management of the courts. More recent legislation has expanded the Center’s mandate to include, among other things, programs related to the history of the federal judiciary.
Wheeler, Russell. "Empirical Research and the Politics of Judicial Administration: Creating the Federal Judicial Center." Law and Contemporary Problems 51 (Summer 1988): 31-53.
Note on "Federal Judicial Center Organizational Placement-Original Intent," in The Federal Judiciary: Observations on Selected Issues. Briefing Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight, and the Courts, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate. United States General Accounting Office, B-261800, September 1995.
Landmark Judicial Legislation