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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.

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  • More to come tomorrow.
    1 hour 31 min ago
  • 7/ Between 1913 and 1920, however, Congress expanded the Court's appellate jurisdiction over the trial courts even further, adding cases involving orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission, U.S. Shipping Board, Federal Power Commission, and the Secretary of Agriculture.
    1 hour 31 min ago
  • 6/ By the 1910s, the appellate caseload of the Supreme Court was reaching a crisis point. Congress tried to ameliorate the situation in 1916, abolishing the right to appeal in cases arising under several federal statutes and narrowing the right of appeal from the state courts.
    1 hour 31 min ago
  • 5/ The Evarts Act made some cases final in the U.S. courts of appeals (unless SCOTUS elected to grant cert), including diversity cases & cases brought under bodies of law such as revenue, patent, and criminal. In all other cases, however, parties had a right of appeal to SCOTUS.
    1 hour 32 min ago
  • 4/ In the early 20th c., Congress added more direct appeals from the federal trial courts to SCOTUS. These included cases brought by the U.S. under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and cases heard under the Three-Judge Court Act of 1910.
    1 hour 35 min 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at