Court Administration Reform Act

The following is my proposed Court Administration Reform Act of 2013, to be introduced shortly after taking my seat in the U.S. Senate. The title is linked to the web page where the latest version can be found. Constructive comments are welcome.

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113th Congress
1st Session
S. ____
To amend certain statutes concerning the assignment and rules of procedure of United States judges and other judicial officers.

January 25, 2013
Mr. ROLAND of Texas introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

To amend certain statutes coded in 28 USC Part I.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the 'Court Administration Reform Act of 2013'.


1. Congress finds the United States Constitution, Article III, does not provide that judges must be appointed to particular courts.
2. The authority for this act is the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 1, and Article III.


1. Public laws and amendments thereto coded in 28 USC Part I, concerning Article III courts, are amended, effective immediately, as follows:
a. Henceforth judges shall not be appointed to specific courts at confirmation, but shall be assigned to a pool from which vacancies shall be filled by drawing from the pool at random.
b. No vacancy shall be filled until there are at least 20 judges in the selection pool.
c. While in the selection pool, judges shall enjoy the same salaries and benefits of assigned judges, but may be assigned temporary duties as magistrates, clerks, administrators, researchers, writers, or teachers.
d. Judges assigned from the selection pool shall serve for two years, beginning October 1 of the first odd-numbered year after their assignment, after which they shall return to the pool, and may not be assigned to the same court twice in succession.
e. Magistrates and clerks shall be similarly appointed to pools, one for magistrates and one for clerks, and shall be randomly assigned to courts from such pools, there to serve for four years, but not to succeed themselves on the same court, and no vacancy shall be filled until the pool for that kind of position shall contain at least twenty candidates.
f. Judges, magistrates, and clerks shall receive a reasonable compensation for the costs of relocations to their assignments.
2. Beginning October 1, 2017, and each odd year thereafter, the number of judges on each appellate court, including the Supreme Court, shall be increased by two, until the number shall reach twenty-seven.
a. All appellate cases shall be initially heard by a randomly selected panel of three, from which appeal may thereafter be made to a randomly selected panel of nine, unless the court shall not then have nine, in which case all of them, and if the court shall have at least fifteen judges, appeal may then be made to the entire court sitting en banc.
b. A vote of two judges shall be sufficient to accept an appeal for review.
3. In any case tried or heard on appeal by a panel of more than one judge, the judges must be unanimous to sustain a claimed power of a government actor against a claim by a private party that the government actor lacks authority to exercise such power.


1. Additional magistrates and clerks shall be appointed sufficient to handle the workload of the judges, subject to appropriations by Congress.
2. Courtrooms and offices shall be expanded in number and size as required to accommodate all court personnel, subject to appropriations by Congress.


Does turnaround need unity?

Some unity is needed to get each of many reforms, but it is possible to do that without a single, comprehensive unified effort that combines all the needed reforms. Turnaround is not a single reform, but the convergence of thousands of reforms. We cannot expect any one unified effort to cover them all. The various efforts should avoid conflicting with one another, and support one another where possible, but it will take massive efforts of many people in many organizations, moving like a tsunami in the same general direction.

Just consider all the bills I have so far at http://jonroland.net/proposed_bills . Yes, if elected I could introduce them all, but getting them passed would take groups forming around support for each one. Of course, it would start with a group uniting to elect me or someone who would introduce all those bills, but after that it would take groups electing each of many more members of Congress, and building support for each bill in each state and district.

The tea party movement provides a model. Much of its strength rests on it being a large number of local efforts with no central leadership or agreed agenda. We need more of that, but now the components need to push more specific reform proposals that are a lot more substantive than the Contract from America suggestions.


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