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Republicans seek to split court circuit

June 19, 2005 at 11:04 AM

WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Congressional Republicans have begun a push to split the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction in the far Western United States.

The Republicans say breaking up the usually liberal court, which covers nine states, is the best way to solve the problem of large caseloads on federal judges, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has introduced legislation that would create two new appellate courts for the area, and the Times said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., plans to introduce a bill that would split the circuit into three parts.

"The situation is continuing to get worse for the 9th Circuit," Ensign told the newspaper. "It has by far the most cases per jurist, and it's just too large and too unwieldy."

However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said the real problem is the number of judges handling cases. "If there is a way to reduce the caseload of the 9th Circuit's judges in a fair and honest manner," she said in a statement, "I am open to considerations." Feinstein has resisted splitting the court in the past.

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