Sen. Barbara Boxer said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is facing a “judicial emergency” as she called for a Senate vote Tuesday on San Jose-based U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s nomination to the appellate court.

As the new year rears its head, the 9th Circuit is facing a four-seat vacancy: Two are currently empty and two will become vacant when other judges assume senior status at the end of 2016.

Why are four vacancies on a court of 29 active judges an emergency? U.S. courts designate vacancies on the 9th Circuit as emergencies and critical to fill as soon as possible due to the court’s huge caseload, according to University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.

The 9th Circuit receives about 10,000 to 12,000 cases a year and decides on roughly 6,000.

The court, which has a liberal-leaning reputation, covers nine states from red Arizona, Idaho and Alaska to the blue states of Washington, Hawaii and California, as well as Montana, Oregon and Nevada. With time running out to confirm Judge Lucy Koh and the other vacancies unfilled, it’s increasingly likely President-elect Donald Trump will be able to reshape the influential court.

Tobias emphasized the importance of the 9th Circuit, saying it’s the largest in the nation by far, and it therefore has an outsized influence. It takes up cutting-edge cases, many of which arise from California, but also from the other states. But, Tobias noted, the Supreme Court reverses the court at a fairly high rate.

As far as how President-elect Trump may influence the court, Tobias says: “I think even in the Obama years the court has moved to be more moderate than it used to be, so I think that with those four appointments it could make some difference and move the court further in that direction.”

Tobias said Obama could make a recess appointment of Judge Koh, but he doesn’t think that is likely to happen. It looks like the 9th Circuit, based in the Golden State, is going to get the Trump Golden Stamp.

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in ‘Judicial Emergency’ 5 January,2017Penny Nelson
  • annjohns

    It’s a hyper-liberal court and, I believe, the MOST reversed in the nation. In addition, though I get her bone fidas and all, but her husband is on the State Supreme Court of California AND she settled the civil case that found the big tech companies (Apple,Adobe, Google etc.) colluded to prevent hiring engineer from each other, a clear anti trust case. Of course the Justice Department had already let the rascals get away with it.

  • Rob H.

    Elections have consequences.

    • mzackcpa

      I love it!

      The Democrats can come along—they will just have to ride in the back of the bus

  • D C


  • Michael Shipman

    Most of the recent Supreme Court reversal decisions have come out of the ninth circuit. Oh no, it’s gonna be a little more moderate & not super progressive! The sky is falling! F U Barbara Boxer.

  • moth0

    Is it too much to as for a court to be considered neither liberal nor conservative but independent of the Executive and Legislature? There’s a reason there are three branches of government have checks and balances it’s to protect Americans from the likes of Boxer who want the Executive, Legislative and Judicial to all be rubber stamps of one another.

    • cat


  • PatriotForever

    PRAISE GOD, uproot the reprobates and get people who administer the LAW on the BOOKS instead of reinterpreting it to fit their agenda. Like PROP 8

  • rjet43

    i hope president Trump does put real American patriots that believe in the Constitution in this court! This court is so leftwing its criminal!!

  • Ann Rand

    Doesn’t Boxer need to be investigated ? She has been there too long to be clean..

  • William Merrell

    The most overturned court in the country. About time they had folks on there that have read the Constitution in the land of fruits and nuts.


    oh boo hoo hoo– sob sob, those poor libtards…
    and as for Barb, good riddance.

  • Jerry Pettigrew

    Good for Trump.

  • BlessedtoServe

    Thank God…maybe we can save Cali to boot…and swing it back to a Reagan state….This has been the best Christmas, Best New years and the best January and for me the best birthday Jan 28th in my whole life….I really really like this winning stuff…who wouldn’t!

  • nowweknow

    Time to clean house!!! 😉

  • Dazzeetrader1980

    Lots of things like this will come up. Instead of making law ( this court seems to do) from the bench, it might be refreshing to just apply the laws we have. COnservatives rejoice. It’s oly the beginning of reformation of the country. I think GOD smiles on this type of thing.

  • Steve Tanton

    This is hilarious. The continued nervosa of the left is killing me! 🙂

  • fuddcat

    The absolute most liberal,crazy court in the USA

  • Dwimby

    Can’t wait for this cesspool court to be shaken up, and shaken up real good.


Penny Nelson

Penny Nelson  is based in the Bay Area  and has worked at KQED in many capacities since 1996.  Prior to working in San Francisco, she worked at WHYY.  At KQED, Penny is an anchor, host, producer and editor.

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