Congressman Hank Johnson, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, led a coalition of Judiciary subcommittee chairs and members of the Judiciary Committee today introducing The Circuit Court Judgeships Act of 2022 to address the massive case backlog due to a shortage of federal judges in circuits across the country.
Original cosponsors include Reps. Jerrold Nadler (NY), Steve Cohen (TN), Eric Swalwell (CA), Deborah Ross (NC), Shelia Jackson-Lee (TX) and Madeleine Dean (PA).
The Circuit Court Judgeships Act of 2022 would create 51 additional circuit court judgeships across 8 judicial circuits.
"Our circuit courts, including in the Eleventh Circuit, are overwhelmed," said Rep. Johnson. "To have a functioning legal system, we must have an adequate number of judgeships. By adding federal judges through the Circuit Court Judgeships Act of 2022, we hope to ensure all Americans their day in court without undue delay, throughout the entire appellate process."
The Judicial Conference sets a threshold of 500 cases per appellate panel when determining whether a court of appeals needs additional judgeships. The Circuit Court Judgeships Act of 2022 employs that standard to relieve these overburdened courts of appeals and improve access to justice.
In a February 2021 hearing Chairman Johnson held on the issue, judges called as witnesses said the lower courts are "at a breaking point" due to the shortage of judgeships and was causing "an erosion of trust in the judiciary and in the judicial process itself." Other federal judges warned that "this is not the judicial system that the United States Constitution envisions," that "the status quo simply cannot meet the Constitutional mandate to administer meaningful justice for all of its citizens," and that "we cannot fulfill our obligations without congressional action to create new judgeships."