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United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
(D.C. Cir.)
""Seal of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.png
Location "E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, "Washington, D.C.
Appeals from
Established February 9, 1893
"Chief Judge "Merrick B. Garland
Active judges 11
Senior judges 7
Circuit justice "John Roberts
Official website

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (in "case citations, D.C. Cir.) known informally as the D.C. Circuit, is the "federal "appellate court for the "U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. "Appeals from the D.C. Circuit, as with all the "U.S. Courts of Appeals, are heard on a discretionary basis by the "Supreme Court. It should not be confused with the "United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is limited in jurisdiction by "subject matter rather than geography, or with the "District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is roughly equivalent to a "state supreme court in the "District of Columbia, established in 1970 to relieve the D.C. Circuit from having to take appeals from the "local D.C. trial court.

While it has the smallest "geographic jurisdiction of any of the United States courts of appeals, the D.C. Circuit, with eleven active judgeships, is arguably the most important inferior appellate court. The court is given the responsibility of directly reviewing the decisions and "rulemaking of many federal "independent agencies of the United States government based in the "national capital, often without prior hearing by a "district court. Aside from the agencies whose statutes explicitly direct review by the D.C. Circuit, the court typically hears cases from other agencies under the more general jurisdiction granted to the Courts of Appeals under the "Administrative Procedure Act. Given the broad areas over which federal agencies have power, this often gives the judges of the D.C. Circuit a central role in affecting national U.S. policy and law. Because of this, the D.C. Circuit is often referred to as the second most powerful court in the United States, second only to the "Supreme Court[1]

A judgeship on the D.C. Circuit is often thought of as a stepping-stone for appointment to the Supreme Court. As of February 2016, three of the nine justices on the Supreme Court are alumni of the D.C. Circuit: "Chief Justice "John Roberts and "Associate Justices "Clarence Thomas and "Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Justice Elena Kagan was nominated by "Bill Clinton to the same seat that Roberts would later fill, but was never given a vote in the Senate. In addition, Chief Justices "Fred M. Vinson and "Warren Burger, as well as Associate Justices "Wiley Blount Rutledge and "Antonin Scalia, served on the D.C. Circuit before their elevations to the Supreme Court. In 1987, the "Reagan Administration put forth two failed nominees from the D.C. Circuit: former Judge "Robert Bork, who was rejected by the "Senate, and former (2001–2008) Chief Judge "Douglas H. Ginsburg (no relation to Ruth Bader Ginsburg), who withdrew his nomination after it became known that he had used "marijuana as a college student and professor in the 1960s and 1970s.

E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse

Unlike the Courts of Appeals for the other geographical districts where home-state senators have the privilege of holding up confirmation by the ""blue slip" process, because the D.C. Circuit does not represent any state, confirmation of nominees is often procedurally and practically easier. However, in recent years, several nominees were stalled and some were ultimately not confirmed because senators claimed that the court had become larger than necessary to handle its caseload. The court has a history of reversing the "Federal Communications Commission's major policy actions.[2]

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit meets at the "E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, near "Judiciary Square in downtown "Washington, D.C.

From 1984 to 2009, there were twelve seats on the D.C. Circuit. One of those seats was eliminated by the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 on January 7, 2008, with immediate effect, leaving the number of authorized judgeships at eleven. (The eliminated judgeship was instead assigned to the "Ninth Circuit, with the assignment taking effect on January 21, 2009).

Decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals are published in the "Federal Reporter, an unofficial reporter from "Thomson Reuters.[3]


Current composition of court[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active "Chief "Senior
53 Chief Judge "Merrick Garland "Washington 1952 1997–present 2013–present "Clinton
49 Circuit Judge "Karen L. Henderson "Washington 1944 1990–present "G.H.W. Bush
51 Circuit Judge "Judith W. Rogers "Washington 1939 1994–present "Clinton
52 Circuit Judge "David S. Tatel "Washington 1942 1994–present "Clinton
56 Circuit Judge "Thomas B. Griffith "Washington 1954 2005–present "G.W. Bush
57 Circuit Judge "Brett Kavanaugh "Washington 1965 2006–present "G.W. Bush
58 Circuit Judge "Sri Srinivasan "Washington 1967 2013–present "Obama
59 Circuit Judge "Patricia Ann Millett "Washington 1963 2013–present "Obama
60 Circuit Judge "Cornelia Pillard "Washington 1961 2013–present "Obama
61 Circuit Judge "Robert L. Wilkins "Washington 1963 2014–present "Obama
62 Circuit Judge "Gregory G. Katsas "Washington 1964 2017–present "Trump
38 Senior Circuit Judge "Harry T. Edwards "Washington 1940 1980–2005 1994–2001 2005–present "Carter
43 Senior Circuit Judge "Laurence Silberman "Washington 1935 1985–2000 2000–present "Reagan
44 Senior Circuit Judge "James L. Buckley inactive 1923 1985–1996 1996–present "Reagan
45 Senior Circuit Judge "Stephen F. Williams "Washington 1936 1986–2001 2001–present "Reagan
46 Senior Circuit Judge "Douglas H. Ginsburg "Washington 1946 1986–2011 2001–2008 2011–present "Reagan
47 Senior Circuit Judge "David B. Sentelle "Washington 1943 1987–2013 2008–2013 2013–present "Reagan
50 Senior Circuit Judge "A. Raymond Randolph "Washington 1943 1990–2008 2008–present "G.H.W. Bush

List of former judges[edit]

# Judge State Born–died Active service "Chief Judge "Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Alvey, Richard Henry"Richard Henry Alvey "MD 1826–1906 1893–1905 1893–1905 "Cleveland retirement
2 Morris, Martin Ferdinand"Martin Ferdinand Morris "DC 1834–1909 1893–1905 "Cleveland retirement
3 Shepard, Seth"Seth Shepard "TX 1847–1917 1893–1917 1905–1917 "Cleveland (associate);
"T. Roosevelt (chief)[4]
4 Duell, Charles Holland"Charles Holland Duell "NY 1850–1920 1905–1906 "T. Roosevelt resignation
5 McComas, Louis E."Louis E. McComas "MD 1846–1907 1905–1907 "T. Roosevelt death
6 Robb, Charles Henry"Charles Henry Robb "VT 1867–1939 1906[5]–1937 1937–1939 "T. Roosevelt death
7 Van Orsdel, Josiah Alexander"Josiah Alexander Van Orsdel "WY 1860–1937 1907[5]–1937 "T. Roosevelt death
8 Smyth, Constantine Joseph"Constantine Joseph Smyth "NE 1859–1924 1917–1924 1917–1924 "Wilson death
9 Martin, George Ewing"George Ewing Martin "OH 1857–1948 1924–1937 1924–1937 1937–1948 "Coolidge death
10 Hitz, William"William Hitz "DC 1872–1935 1931–1935 "Hoover death
11 Groner, Duncan Lawrence"Duncan Lawrence Groner "VA 1873–1957 1931–1948 1937–1948 1948–1957 "Hoover (associate);
"F. Roosevelt (chief)[4]
12 Stephens, Harold Montelle"Harold Montelle Stephens "UT 1886–1955 1935–1955 1948–1955 "F. Roosevelt (associate);
"Truman (chief)[4]
13 Miller, Justin"Justin Miller "CA 1888–1973 1937–1945 "F. Roosevelt resignation
14 Edgerton, Henry White"Henry White Edgerton "DC 1888–1970 1937–1963 1955–1958 1963–1970 "F. Roosevelt death
15 Vinson, Fred M."Fred M. Vinson "KY 1890–1953 1938–1943 "F. Roosevelt resignation
16 Rutledge, Wiley Blount"Wiley Blount Rutledge "KY 1894–1949 1939–1943 "F. Roosevelt elevated to "Supreme Court
17 Arnold, Thurman"Thurman Arnold "WY 1891–1969 1943–1945 "F. Roosevelt resignation
18 Clark, Bennett Champ"Bennett Champ Clark "MO 1890–1954 1945–1954 "Truman death
19 Miller, Wilbur Kingsbury"Wilbur Kingsbury Miller "KY 1892–1976 1945–1964 1960–1962 1964–1976 "Truman death
20 Prettyman, E. Barrett"E. Barrett Prettyman "DC 1891–1971 1945–1962 1958–1960 1962–1971 "Truman death
21 Proctor, James McPherson"James McPherson Proctor "DC 1882–1953 1948–1953 "Truman death
22 Bazelon, David L."David L. Bazelon "IL 1909–1993 1949[5]–1979 1962–1978 1979–1993 "Truman death
23 Fahy, Charles"Charles Fahy "GA 1892–1979 1949[5]–1967 1967–1979 "Truman death
24 Washington, George Thomas"George Thomas Washington "OH 1908–1971 1949[5]–1965 1965–1971 "Truman death
25 Danaher, John A."John A. Danaher "CT 1899–1990 1953[5]–1969 1969–1990 "Eisenhower death
26 Bastian, Walter Maximillian"Walter Maximillian Bastian "DC 1891–1975 1954[5]–1965 1965–1975 "Eisenhower death
27 Burger, Warren E."Warren E. Burger "MN 1907–1995 1956–1969 "Eisenhower elevated to "Supreme Court
28 Wright, James Skelly"James Skelly Wright "LA 1911–1988 1962–1986 1978–1981 1986–1988 "Kennedy death
29 McGowan, Carl E."Carl E. McGowan "IL 1911–1987 1963–1981 1981–1981 1981–1987 "Kennedy death
30 Tamm, Edward Allen"Edward Allen Tamm "DC 1906–1985 1965–1985 "L. Johnson death
31 Leventhal, Harold"Harold Leventhal "DC 1915–1979 1965–1979 "L. Johnson death
32 Robinson III, Spottswood William"Spottswood William Robinson III "VA 1916–1998 1966–1989 1981–1986 1989–1998 "L. Johnson death
33 MacKinnon, George"George MacKinnon "MN 1906–1995 1969–1983 1983–1995 "Nixon death
34 Robb, Roger"Roger Robb "DC 1907–1985 1969–1982 1982–1985 "Nixon death
35 Wilkey, Malcolm Richard"Malcolm Richard Wilkey "TX 1918–2009 1970–1984 1984–1985 "Nixon retirement
36 Wald, Patricia"Patricia Wald "DC 1928–present 1979–1999 1986–1991 "Carter retirement
37 Mikva, Abner"Abner Mikva "IL 1926–2016 1979–1994 1991–1994 "Carter resignation
39 Ginsburg, Ruth Bader"Ruth Bader Ginsburg "NY 1933–present 1980–1993 "Carter elevated to "Supreme Court
40 Bork, Robert"Robert Bork "CT 1927–2012 1982–1988 Reagan, "Reagan resignation
41 Scalia, Antonin"Antonin Scalia "NJ 1936–2016 1982–1986 Reagan, "Reagan elevated to "Supreme Court
42 Starr, Kenneth"Kenneth Starr "VA 1946–present 1983–1989 Reagan, "Reagan resignation
48 Thomas, Clarence"Clarence Thomas "GA 1948–present 1990–1991 Bush, G.H.W."G.H.W. Bush elevated to "Supreme Court
54 Roberts, John"John Roberts "MD 1955–present 2003–2005 Bush, G.W."G.W. Bush elevated to "Supreme Court
55 Brown, Janice Rogers"Janice Rogers Brown "CA 1949–present 2005–2017 Bush, G.W."G.W. Bush retirement


as Chief Justice
"Alvey 1893–1905
"Shepard 1905–1917
"Smyth 1917–1924
"Martin 1924–1937
"Groner 1937–1948
"Stephens 1948
as Chief Judge
"Stephens 1948–1955
"Edgerton 1955–1958
"Prettyman 1958–1960
"W. Miller 1960–1962
"Bazelon 1962–1978
"Wright 1978–1981
"McGowan 1981–1981
"Robinson 1981–1986
"Wald 1986–1991
"Mikva 1991–1994
"Edwards 1994–2001
"D. Ginsburg 2001–2008
"Sentelle 2008–2013
"Garland 2013–present

When Congress established this court in 1893 as the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, it had a Chief Justice, and the other judges were called Associate Justices, which was similar to the structure of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justiceship was a separate seat: the President would appoint the Chief Justice, and that person would stay Chief Justice until he left the court.

On June 25, 1948, 62 Stat. 869 and 62 Stat. 985 became law. These acts made the Chief Justice a Chief Judge. In 1954, another law, 68 Stat. 1245, clarified what was implicit in those laws: that the Chief Judgeship was not a mere renaming of the position but a change in its status that made it the same as the Chief Judge of other inferior courts.

Chief judges have administrative responsibilities with respect to their circuits, and preside over any panel on which they serve unless the circuit justice (i.e., the "Supreme Court justice responsible for the circuit) is also on the panel. Unlike the Supreme Court, where one justice is specifically nominated to be chief, the office of chief judge rotates among the circuit judges. To be chief, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position.

When the office was created in 1948, the chief judge was the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as "senior status or declined to serve as chief judge. After August 6, 1959, judges could not become or remain chief after turning 70 years old. The current rules have been in operation since October 1, 1982.

Succession of seats[edit]

The court has eleven seats for active judges after the elimination of seat seven under the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007. The seat that was originally the Chief Justiceship is numbered as Seat 1; the other seats are numbered in order of their creation. If seats were established simultaneously, they are numbered in the order in which they were filled. Judges who retire into "senior status remain on the bench but leave their seat vacant. That seat is filled by the next circuit judge appointed by the "President.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Roberts (2006). "What Makes the D.C. Circuit Different? A Historical View" (PDF). Virginia Law Review. 92: 375. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hearn, Ted (September 4, 2008). "Comcast Sues FCC Over Network Management Finding: Cabler Wants Agency's Decision on Its P2P Policies Reversed". Multichannel News. 
  3. ^ "Judicial Decisions | Law Library of Congress". "Library of Congress. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  4. ^ a b c Prior to 1948, the court consisted of a Chief Justice and up to five Associate Justices. Much like in the "United States Supreme Court, the Chief Justice would be separately nominated and subject to a separate confirmation process, regardless of whether or not he was elevated from an associate justice position. In 1948, the positions of Chief Justice and Associate Justice were reassigned to Circuit Judge positions and the position of Chief Judge was assigned based on seniority.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Recess appointment, confirmed by the Senate at a later date.


External links[edit]

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