Rick Santorum wants to break the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals into pieces. And maybe banish the circuit’s judges to Guam.
“Realistically, we can probably do something that’s actually been proposed a lot in the past, which is to take the Ninth Circuit … and cut it in two, and take maybe all the judges and stick them in California, and then give all these states who have had to suffer under the reign of terror of California judges and give them their own court so they can actually reflect the values of the Western states,” Santorum told the Huffington Post.
Luckily, for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and his rag-tag crew of "rogue" court colleagues, Santorum is lagging so far behind in the presidential primary polls that his Ninth Circuit remodeling plan seems unlikely. But regardless of whether it's President Obama, current Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, or a dark horse who surprises us all, who assumes judicial nomination duties through January 2017, our next president will wield considerable power in shaping the courts.
While there are still more Republicans than Democrats on the bench, many of the current federal appellate judges are contemplating retirement, according to The Washington Post.
If President Obama "merely filled existing vacancies," Democratic appointees would take the majority on the D.C., Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals. The next president could also shift the ideological power balance from "conservative" to "liberal" within the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, reports the Post. If Obama retains the White House, that could take some attention off of the Ninth Circuit.
So how do the judges feel about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals bashing?
"I don't pay particular attention to campaign rhetoric," Judge Kozinski, a Ronald Reagan appointee, told The Wall Street Journal. (Sidebar: Happy birthday to the Gipper.)
Judge Kozinski also noted that Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich wouldn't have to follow through with his plan to haul federal judges before Congress to account for their decisions. "They don't need a subpoena. All they need to do is ask," he told The Journal.
- Your Politics Matter if You Want to Become a Federal Judge (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Newt Gingrich v. The Nine: Can POTUS Ignore SCOTUS? (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (US Courts)