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Federal Judicial History

The Center conducts research and produces resources on the history of the judicial branch of the federal government.  These resources include compilations of historical data on the courts, information about judges and judicial administration, as well as publications on federal judicial history. The Center also maintains a biographical directory of Article III judges from 1789 to the present, engages in outreach and education on federal judicial history, and works to promote the preservation of the history of the judicial branch.

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • #DYK? Congress created the Choctaw and Chickasaw Citizenship Court, which operated 1902-1903, to determine questions of tribal citizenship for purposes of land allocation
    3 days 10 hours ago
  • #SCOTUS decided Powell v. Alabama #OTD in 1932; trials of "Scottsboro Boys" accused of rape violated Due Process Clause because defendants were not given sufficient opportunity to obtain counsel
    4 days 10 hours ago
  • Arguments began #OTD in 1896 in Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR v. Chicago; 1st case in which #SCOTUS applied a provision of the Bill of Rights to the states via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (i.e., "incorporation")
    5 days 10 hours ago
  • The Chicago 8 trial became the Chicago 7 #OTD in 1969 when Judge Julius Hoffman declared a mistrial in the prosecution of Bobby Seale, convicted him of 16 counts of contempt, and sentenced him to 4 years in prison (image: Seale bound & gagged during trial)
    6 days 10 hours ago
  • #SCOTUS Justice Stephen J. Field (1863-1897) was born #OTD in 1816
    1 week 11 hours ago


Debates on the Federal Judiciary: A Documentary History

This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.

Volume I: 1787-1875
The first volume traces the long process of defining the judiciary within the relatively brief outline provided by the Constitution.

Volume II: 1875-1939
Volume II 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. 

Volume III: 1939-2005
The concluding volume of the series covers debates concerning structural changes to the federal courts, criminal justice reform, proposed civil justice initiatives, and the discipline of federal judges.




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