WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2021 – Today Rep. Hank Johnson introduced new legislation that would add 203 new seats on the nation’s lower courts. The legislation follows a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Chris Coons and Todd Young this week that would add 77 new district court judgeships. Historically, Congress routinely expanded the number of lower court judgeships to keep up with population growth, yet since 1990, the number of district court judgeships has not significantly increased. Today, some courts have faced caseloads that are nearly double what is recommended by the Judicial Conference of the United States. It is no surprise that the Judicial Conference, headed by John Roberts, has made clear that new judgeships are critical.
Alliance for Justice has long supported expanding the lower courts. Indeed, upon the election of President Biden, 70 groups joined AFJ in signing a Statement of Principles that urged the creation of new lower court judgeships as a top priority for the administration.
Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement:
“It’s very encouraging to see lawmakers recognize the need for growing our lower courts. Our courts are simply not meeting the needs of the American people, delaying their access to justice. As our nation grows, so too must our courts to be prepared to efficiently respond to all Americans seeking to right the wrongs they’ve been subjected to. We are particularly encouraged that Congressman Johnson’s bill would significantly increase the number of judgeships immediately.
“This bill is a critical opportunity to not only address the emergency in our court system, but also to ensure our courts better reflect the diversity of people and professions across the country. Great work is already underway to make sure judgeships are open to people of more diverse backgrounds and legal experiences, and this expansion would be an opportunity for that work to continue.
“We look forward to similar expansion proposals to meet the needs of our appeals courts.”