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An Embarrassment of Benches: FTC Praises Two New Judgeship Bills

Fix the Court this week is praising the introduction of two bills that if enacted would add a significant number of much-needed judges to the federal bench.

Legislation introduced yesterday by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) — the JUDGES Act (S. 2535) — would add the 77 district judges that the Judicial Conference requested earlier this year in two batches: 39 in 2025 and 38 in 2029.

A bill introduced today by House Democrats — the District Court Judgeships Act of 2021 (H.R. 4886) — goes even further, calling for the immediate addition of 203 new lower court judgeships. Both bills would make nine temporarily authorized judgeships permanent.

With caseloads up 30 percent since the last comprehensive judgeships bill was enacted in 1990, it follows that a 30 percent increase in federal trial judges makes sense, which is what the latter bill would do. That said, that measure has not gained bipartisan support, which is critical given the continued existence of the 60-vote filibuster. Reacting to the Coons-Young bill, FTC’s Gabe Roth said:

“Countless Americans seeking their day in court badly need Congress to authorize more judgeships to handle burgeoning caseloads. But for decades, lawmakers have either ignored this access-to-justice crisis or offered bills that would plainly benefit one party over another. Thankfully, today’s legislation from Sens. Coons and Young demonstrates that leaders in both parties can find a solution that will dramatically improve access to the courtroom and help to address judicial emergencies across the country.”

On the House Dems’ bill, he added: “Right now, there are four factions in Congress: progressive Democrats, moderate Democrats, mainstream Republicans and conservative Republicans. With the introduction of Rep. Johnson’s judgeships bill, three of four of these have formally acknowledged we need many, many more judges to improve access to justice. Here’s to hoping they can hammer out a deal!”

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