Monday, 18 April 2005


I thought teach-ins were only held by ultra-lefty nutbars who couldn’t get real teaching jobs. Apparently I was at least partially wrong:

I attended a teach-in about the current state of judicial nominations today [Jack Balkin on the Constitution in Exile: “I don’t believe it for a second.”] and came away with, inter alia, a map of the geographic boundaries of not only the Circuit courts but also the District courts (sort of like this only easier to read and less garish). It’s something of a surprise to me. New Jersey, the ninth most populous state, is a single federal district. Oklahoma, the twenty-seventh, has three. West Virginia, the thirty-seventh, has two. To be sure population and federal caseload are but rough correlates (witness, e.g., the District of Columbia) but still. Three districts in Oklahoma? Three in Alabama?

Is the mismatch because some local features turn up a surprising amount of federal case law, or because districts are created as prizes for local senators, who presumably get to fill the spots with their chosen folks? Presumably both.

How about a third theory: geography. Try dragging your court around a state the size of Alabama versus one the size of New Jersey. Pork may be a factor (though I’m somewhat skeptical—there are not a lot of patronage jobs in the courts), but I think the more compelling explanation is that Oklahoma and Alabama are a heck of a lot bigger than New Jersey.

1 comment:

Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. Will Baude wrote @ Tue, 19 Apr 2005, 9:03 am CDT:

Of course, Montana and Alaska are bigger than that. Still, I take the point that there might be a hybrid geography-population thing going on.

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