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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)

  • RT @SCHSociety: Tonight (5/4/21) on the PBS NewsHour, the Society's Director of Publications, Clare Cushman, will be discussing the history…
    3 days 10 hours ago
  • We have just posted the latest entry in our Spotlight on Judicial History series: The South Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials of 1871-1872
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  • Former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Joseph W. Hatchett (Fifth/Eleventh Circuit) died April 30 at age 88
    4 days 13 hours ago
  • 34/ Despite grants of independent litigating authority, practice before SCOTUS remains almost exclusively w/in DOJ. The Office of the SG handles nearly all such litigation, with exceptions typically requiring the SG's authorization. /end
    1 week 1 day ago
  • 33/ AG Griffin Bell noted in 1978 that 31 governmental units had independent litigating authority; that number subsequently increased. Grants of independent litigating authority have been inconsistent in scope; some have extended to all matters, while others have been narrower.
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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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

Approaches to Federal Judicial History

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This volume presents a range of scholarly approaches to the field of federal judicial history. Essays by scholars and public historians evaluate the current state of the field and offer insights into new potential areas of study.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at