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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)

  • Today in Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts, American Ins. Co. v. Canter (1828): Did the Constitution require Congress to give judges of territorial courts the same tenure and salary protections afforded to judges of federal courts located in the states?
    15 hours 32 min ago
  • Today we highlight Monroe v. Pape (1961) in Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts: Did the KKK Act of 1871 permit lawsuits in federal court against police officers who violated the constitutional rights of suspects without authorization from the state?
    3 days 15 hours ago
  • Have you seen our feature Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts? Today we highlight Baker v. Carr (1962): Could a federal court hear a constitutional challenge to a state's apportionment plan for the election of state legislators?
    4 days 15 hours ago
  • We have just posted the latest entry in our Spotlight on Judicial History series: The Midnight Judges. Just before leaving office, President John Adams fills new circuit judgeships authorized by the controversial Judiciary Act of 1801
    5 days 15 hours ago
  • Former U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano (D. N.J.) died February 26 at age 71
    1 week 15 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at