Trump on 9th Circuit: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Break 'Em Up

Trump says he's 'absolutely' considering splitting up the appeals court
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2017 12:37 PM CDT
Trump Thinking About Breaking Up 9th Circuit
President Trump says he wants to split up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a string of defeats there.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Having seen the court block a number of his executive orders during his short time in office, President Trump tells the Washington Examiner he's "absolutely" considering breaking up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. "What's going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame," Trump says, adding the 9th Circuit is "outrageous" and his opponents are "judge shopping" by taking cases there. Republicans have been attacking the 9th Circuit for decades, accusing it of being both too liberal and too large, the Washington Post reports. Conservative pundits call it the "Ninth Circus" or the "Nutty Ninth," and Newt Gingrich once proposed getting rid of it entirely for being "anti-American."

The first part of Republicans' complaint—that the 9th Circuit is too liberal—isn't as accurate as it used to be. The court's liberal bent declined recently after President Obama placed a handful of centrist judges on it. And the GOP's claim that decisions from the 9th Circuit have the highest rate of being overturned in the Supreme Court is complicated by the fact that the high court takes up a "minuscule fraction" of any courts cases, notes the Post. But Republicans may have a point that the 9th Circuit is too big: The AP reports it has more judges than any other appellate court and covers 20% of the US population. But 9th Circuit judges—appointed by both Democrat and Republican presidents—oppose proposals to break it down into smaller courts. Trump can't break up the court on his own anyway; it would require Congress to act. (More US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stories.)

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