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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, we highlight Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman Co. (1941): When should a federal court abstain from deciding a legal issue in order to allow a state court to resolve it?
    1 day 7 hours ago
  • Today in Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts, we highlight Brown v. Allen (1953): What procedures should federal courts use to evaluate the fairness of state trials in habeas corpus cases?
    2 days 7 hours ago
  • Today in Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts, we highlight Glidden Co. v. Zdanok (1962): Were the Court of Claims and the Court of Customs Appeals "constitutional courts" exercising judicial power, or "legislative courts" exercising powers of Congress?
    3 days 7 hours ago
  • Former U.S. District Judge (S.D. Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings died today at age 84
    4 days 5 hours ago
  • Today in Cases that Shaped the Federal Courts, we highlight Crowell v. Benson (1932): What standard should courts apply when reviewing the decisions of executive agencies?
    4 days 7 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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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