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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)

  • Iva Toguri D'Aquino (aka Toyko Rose), convicted of treason for WWII radio broadcasts, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine by Judge Michael Roche of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California #OTD in 1949
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  • Senior U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp (D. Nebraska) died September 23 at age 66
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  • 33/ In August 1997, the first women cadets enrolled at VMI, a few of them as upper-year students. In 1999, the first two of them graduated. In 2001, 13 women—the first to spend a full four years at VMI—graduated as part of a class of 250. /end
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  • 32/ Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion was based in large part on an originalist interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, under which the long-held national tradition of all-male military colleges would not be considered an equal protection violation.
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  • 31/ In his concurring opinion, Rehnquist agreed that VWIL was not an adequate remedy but did not agree that Virginia could cure its equal protection violation only by admitting women to VMI. VWIL would have been acceptable, he wrote, had it been of the same caliber as VMI.
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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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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