United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, known informally as the D.C. Circuit, is the federal appellate court for the United States 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. The D.C. Circuit was established in 1893 and has 11 posts. The court is located at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C.
It should not be confused with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is roughly equivalent to a state supreme court in the District of Columbia, or with the Federal Circuit, whose jurisdiction is limited by subject matter.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Article III judges
|Judge Janice Brown||1949||Greenville, AL||W. Bush||6/10/2005 - Present||Stephen F. Williams||California State U. '74||University of California Los Angeles Law '77|
|Chief Judge Merrick Garland||1952||Illinois||Clinton||3/20/1997 - Present||2/12/13 - Present||Abner Mikva||Harvard '74||Harvard Law '77|
|Judge Thomas Griffith||1954||Yokohama, Japan||W. Bush||6/29/2005 - Present||Patricia Wald||Brigham Young U. '78||University of Virginia Law '85|
|Judge Karen Henderson||1944||Oberlin, OH||H.W. Bush||07/05/1990 - Present||Kenneth Starr||Duke U., 1966||University of North Carolina Law, 1969|
|Judge Brett Kavanaugh||1965||Washington D.C.||W. Bush||5/29/2006 - Present||Laurence Silberman||Yale '87||Yale Law '90|
|Judge Judith Rogers||1939||New York, NY||Clinton||3/11/1994 - Present||Clarence Thomas||Radcliffe College '61||Harvard Law '64|
|Judge David Tatel||1942||Washington D.C.||Clinton||10/7/1994 - Present||Ruth Bader Ginsburg||University of Michigan '63||University of Chicago Law '66|
|Judge Robert Leon Wilkins||1963||Indiana||Obama||9/12/2014-Present||David Sentelle||Rose-Hulman Inst. of Tech., B.S., 1986||Harvard Law, J.D., 1989|
|Judge Srikanth Srinivasan||1967||Chandigarh, India,|
and Lawrence, KS
|Obama||05/23/2013 - Present||Arthur Randolph||Stanford U., 1989||Stanford U. Law, 1995|
|Judge Patricia Ann Millett||1963||Dexter, Maine||Obama||12/10/2013 - Present||John G. Roberts, Jr.||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.A., 1985||Harvard Law, J.D. 1988|
|Judge Cornelia T. L. Pillard||1961||Washington D.C.||Obama||12/12/2013 - Present||Douglas Ginsburg||Yale College, B.A., 1983||Harvard Law, J.D., 1987|
|Senior judge Stephen F. Williams||Reagan||06/16/1986 - 09/30/2008||09/30/2008 - Present||Yale U., 1958||Harvard Law, 1961|
|Senior Judge David Sentelle||Reagan||09/11/1987 - 02/12/2013||2008 - 2013||02/12/2013 - Present||University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill '65||University of North Carolina Law '68|
|Senior Judge Douglas Ginsburg||Reagan||10/14/1986 - 10/14/2011||2001-2008||10/14/2011 - Present||Cornell'70||University of Chicago Law '73|
|Senior judge Harry Edwards||Carter||2/20/1980 - 11/3/2005||1994-2001||11/3/2005 - Present||Cornell U. '62||University of Michigan Law '65|
|Senior judge Arthur Randolph||H.W. Bush||07/16/1990 - 11/01/2008||11/01/2008 - Present||Drexel U., 1966||University of Pennsylvania Law, 1969|
|Senior judge Laurence Silberman||Reagan||10/28/1985 - 11/1/2000||11/1/2000 - Present||Dartmouth '57||Harvard Law '61|
|Senior judge James Buckley||Reagan||12/17/1985 - 8/31/1996||8/31/1996 - Present||Yale '43||Yale Law '49|
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard by the D.C. Circuit. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the D.C. Circuit are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Chief Justice John Roberts is the Circuit Justice for the D.C. Circuit.
Because of the nature of its jurisdiction, the ideologies of the judges who serve on the District of Columbia Circuit is often a partisan issue.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website (for District Courts) and reflect the calendar year through September. **This statistic reflects only judges that are active for the entire 12 month period.|
For a searchable list of decisions from the D.C. Circuit, please see: D.C. Circuit Searchable Opinions
|• D.C. Circuit cannot rule on filibuster lawsuit due to jurisdictional issue (2014)||Click for summary→|
|In April 2014, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit, comprised of Judges Arthur Randolph, Karen Henderson and Stephen F. Williams, blocked a lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Common Cause having to do with Senate filibuster rules invoked as to the DREAM and DISCLOSE bills. The decision, written by Judge Randolph, noted that the advocacy group failed to sue the proper party, namely, the Senate itself, as it was the cause of the alleged injury in question. Judge Randolph further stated that the Senate was an "absent third party," and that the D.C. Circuit therefore lacked jurisdiction to rule on the case.
|• D.C. Circuit strikes down "conflict minerals" rule as unconstitutional (2014)||Click for summary→|
|On April 14, 2014, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit, comprised of Judges Arthur Randolph, David Sentelle and Srikanth Srinivasan, struck down a securities law concerning "conflict minerals" (i.e., minerals that were mined in central Africa), noting that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule violated the First Amendment. In the opinion, Judge Randolph wrote that “[b]y compelling an issuer to confess blood on its hands, the statute interferes with that exercise of freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”
| • Net neutrality struck down in landmark ruling (2014)|
Judge(s):David Tatel, Judith Rogers, Laurence H. Silberman (Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, 11-1355)
|Click for summary→|
|On January 14, 2014, a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit, comprised of Judges David Tatel, Judith Rogers, and Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman, struck down net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) open-Internet rules. Tatel, writing for the majority, wrote that the government could not force internet providers to treat all traffic equally. This case was spurred by the FCC's 2010 passage of the Open Internet Order (OIO), a document which set out rules designed to "preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission." Verizon challenged those rules, arguing that the FCC lacked the regulatory authority to enforce them, and that they served as a violation of the company's First Amendment right to free speech. In the decision, Tatel, joined by Rogers, wrote that "even though the [FCC] has general authority to regulate in this arena, it may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates," vacating the sections of the OIO which sought to regulate internet providers as "common carriers" (i.e., a company that provides services for "public convenience and necessity," without discrimination). Silberman concurred in part and dissented in part, writing that he believed the FCC lacked the statutory authority to issue the OIO in the first place.|
The D.C. Circuit was established on February 9, 1893, by 27 Stat. 434, which granted the court one chief justice and two associate justices. Over the years, eight additional seats were added, resulting in a total of 11 posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit:
|February 9, 1893||27 Stat. 434||3|
|June 19, 1930||46 Stat. 785||5|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||6|
|August 3, 1949||63 Stat. 493||9|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||11|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||12|
|January 7, 2008||121 Stat. 2534||11|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, 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 in the office of chief judge 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. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more on the judges of the D.C. Circuit, see former federal judges of the D.C. Circuit.
- United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, "Official Website"
- United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, "Judges"
- Courthouse News Service, "Secrecy upheld in the name of George Washington," June 12, 2013
- Courthouse News Service, "Uncle Sam can get gun sale reports," June 6, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "Obama demands action in nominating three for D.C. Circuit," June 4, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "Court rules cooperating inmate not a 'government agent'," May 23, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "D.C. Circuit: Bin Laden death images can remain secret," May 21, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "D.C. Court: Judges Can Investigate Juror Racial Bias," May 17, 2013
- The Blog of Legal Times, "DOJ Asks D.C. Circuit to Keep Surveillance Law Memo Secret," May 10, 2013
- The Atlantic, "How Vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court Are Swaying Policy in America," May 10, 2013
- CBS News, "CIA drone secrecy ruling nixed by appeals court," March 15, 2013
- Wall Street Journal, "Why D.C. Circuit, at Center of Nominee Fight, Is So Important," November 20, 2013
- NPR, "Feds Can't Enforce Net Neutrality: What This Means For You," January 14, 2014
- WSJ Law Blog, "D.C. Circuit Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules," January 14, 2014
- TIME, "Landmark Verizon ‘Net Neutrality’ Case Tests Open Internet Rules," September 9, 2013
- Wired, "FCC Passes Compromise Net Neutrality Rules," December 21, 2010
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the D.C. Circuit," accessed on September 27, 2014
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
Chief Judge: Merrick Garland • Janice Brown • Thomas Griffith • Karen Henderson • Brett Kavanaugh • Judith Rogers • David Tatel • Robert Leon Wilkins • Srikanth Srinivasan • Patricia Ann Millett • Cornelia T. L. Pillard
|Former judges||William Cranch • James Markham Marshall • Allen Bowie Duckett • Nicholas Battalle Fitzhugh • William Kilty • James Sewall Morsell • Buckner Thruston • James Dunlop • William Matthew Merrick • Richard Henry Alvey • Martin Ferdinand Morris • Seth Shepard • Louis Emory McComas • Charles Holland Duell • Charles Henry Robb • Josiah Alexander Van Orsdel • William Hitz • Constantine Joseph Smyth • Duncan Groner • George Ewing Martin • James McPherson Proctor • Harold Montelle Stephens • Henry Edgerton • Justin Miller • James Wright • Walter Bastian • Edward Tamm • Spottswood Robinson • Thurman Arnold • Bennett Clark • Wilbur Miller • David Bazelon • Robert Bork • John Danaher • Charles Fahy • George MacKinnon • Carl McGowan • Abner Mikva • Elijah Prettyman • Roger Robb • Kenneth Starr • Patricia Wald • George Thomas Washington • Malcolm Wilkey • George Edward MacKinnon • James Proctor •|
|Former Chief judges||
William Cranch • Richard Henry Alvey • Seth Shepard • Constantine Joseph Smyth • Duncan Groner • George Ewing Martin • Harold Montelle Stephens • Henry Edgerton • David Sentelle • Douglas Ginsburg • Harry Edwards • James Wright • Spottswood Robinson • Wilbur Miller • David Bazelon • Carl McGowan • Abner Mikva • Elijah Prettyman • Patricia Wald •