SAN FRANCISCO — A Republican push to split up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is gaining ground on Capitol Hill, as the Trump administration has rolled out a revised version of the travel-ban executive order, more than a month after the original version was blocked by the court.
On Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries. These were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In a report from BBC News, the order, among other factors, created a suspension of the Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, placed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, imposed a 90-day visa suspension from the seven listed countries and a cap of 50,000 refugees to be accepted in 2017, compared to a limit of 110,000 set by former President Barack Obama.
However, in a move that sparked worldwide protests and legal challenges, a federal judge in Seattle suspended the ban, allowing previously banned visitors to come to the U.S. pending an appeal by the administration.
But as CNN reported, Trump signed a new version of his immigration executive order on March 7, one that removed Iraq from the previous list of banned countries and temporarily bans all refugees, among other changes. The revised ban is set to begin March 16.
Talk, though, is circulating among the upper echelons that the Republicans want to create a new circuit court. Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain recently introduced legislation to take six states out of the current San Francisco-based court to create a new 12th Circuit.
According to Fox News, Flake and McCain argued that the 9th Circuit “is too big, too liberal and too slow resolving cases.” If the circuit is split up according to the legislation, the 9th's judicial arena would contain only California, Oregon, Hawaii and island districts the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. In the proposed bill, the 12th Circuit would include Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Alaska.
“We have a bedrock principle of swift justice, and if you live in Arizona or anywhere in the 9th Circuit, you just don’t have it,” Flake said in the Fox News report.
Flake added that the court typically can take 15 months to hand down a decision, which, according to him, is too long.
This, however, is not the first time that the workings of the 9th Circuit have come into question. For years, conservatives have reportedly nicknamed the court the “Nutty 9th” or “9th Circus” in the wake of its many rulings that have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
As Fox News reported, congressional efforts to split the 9th Circuit go as far back as 1941. The circuit was created in 1891, but at the time it was sparsely inhabited with only 4 percent of the U.S. population residing in the area, compared to 20 percent today.
Congress did appoint a commission to look at the federal appeals courts’ structure in 1998; however, the commission recommended against splitting up the 9th Circuit.