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Debates on the Federal Judiciary: A Documentary History

Volume I: 1787-1875 (PDF)
The first volume traces the long process of defining the judiciary within the relatively brief outline provided by the Constitution. The volume includes annotated excerpts from the debates on the establishment and jurisdiction of federal trial courts, judicial tenure and impeachment of judges, judicial review of state court decisions, circuit riding and the expansion of the court system to serve a growing nation, and the impact of the Civil War on the federal courts.

Volume II: 1875-1939 (PDF)
This volume introduces readers to public debates on proposals to alter the organization, jurisdiction, and administration of the federal courts, as well as the tenure and authority of federal judges, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The documents illustrate the contending views of lawyers, judges, legislators, legal scholars, and ordinary citizens on the judiciary's role in American constitutional government. Documents are drawn from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental sources, including congressional floor debates, testimony in congressional hearings, bar association meetings, public addresses, legal treatises, law reviews, and popular periodicals.

Volume III: 1939-2005 (PDF)
The concluding volume of the series covers debates concerning structural changes to the federal courts, including the creation of the U.S. magistrate and U.S. bankruptcy judge positions, and alterations to the federal appellate system, including the division of the Fifth Circuit, the creation of the Federal Circuit, and proposals for a national court of appeals. A section on criminal justice reform recounts debates over access to counsel for indigent defendants, detention before trial, habeas corpus, and the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The volume also covers proposed civil justice initiatives regarding diversity jurisdiction, class actions, case management, alternative dispute resolution, and the creation of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and concludes with discussions on the discipline of federal judges, including proposals for a nonimpeachment method for judicial removal.