These bills, S.276 and H.R. 1598, are attempts to gerrymander the federal appeals courts. Look at the proposed plan to divide the Ninth Circuit and create a new Twelfth Circuit:

  • Ninth Circuit: California, Hawaii, Oregon, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands (all Dem states)
  • Proposed Twelfth Circuit: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Washington State (three solidly Republican, two borderline, one Dem state)

This is a court-packing scheme to put more conservative judges onto the federal appeals courts. The judgeships are lifetime appointments. In most cases, the federal appeals courts determine federal law for the states in their jurisdiction because the U.S. Supreme Court takes few cases to potentially overrule them. By creating a new Twelfth Circuit, conservatives can tilt American case law in a more right-wing direction for generations to come.

With right-wingers controlling the presidency and Senate, it’s highly likely that the new circuit court would be right-wing and very unbalanced. The new court would probably restrict civil and human rights, and curtail hard-fought advances in areas such as labor, immigration, consumer rights, environmental protection, and reproductive freedom. How would you like to have a court like that determining your rights?

Senator Flake is considered a vulnerable Senator in 2018, with threats coming from the left and right. His bill to split the Ninth Circuit appears to be an attempt to please the right and prevent a primary challenge in 2018. Although the bill may not have a serious chance of passing, it’s critical that we speak out now to oppose it.

Note: Please use electronic means to transmit your letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. We can direct you to a dedicated dropbox for these letters. Please contact us for details at

Return to GOP Moves to Split the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court