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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.

Spotlight on Judicial History

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • Judge J. Skelly Wright (E.D. La.) issued a restraining order #OTD in 1960 ordering the entire state legislature, governor, lt. governor, and others not to interfere with the desegregation of public schools the following day. Learn more:
    1 week 3 days ago
  • RT @abapubliced: Educators! How do you teach the intersection of First Amendment, student free speech, patriotism and forced speech? Join u…
    1 week 4 days ago
  • 20/ At the same time, however, Congress provided for three-judge district courts in suits challenging a state's apportionment of congressional or state legislative districts. Today, most three-judge district court provisions relate to election or campaign finance law. /end
    2 weeks 12 hours ago
  • 19/ In 1976, Congress repealed the three-judge district court provisions of 1910 (suits for injunctions against enforcement of state laws) and 1937 (suits for injunctions against enforcement of congressional statutes).
    2 weeks 12 hours ago
  • 18/ In the 1970s, Congress concluded that three-judge district courts were placing a heavy burden on the judiciary and moved to limit their use. In 1974, three-judge courts in cases under the Expediting Act were eliminated.
    2 weeks 12 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

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.

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