The US Supreme Court on Friday released its new circuit assignments for the justices.
The good news? Conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas were all assigned to crucial battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan.
It is ordered that the following allotment be made of The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of this Court among the circuits, pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 42 and that such allotment be entered of record, effective November 20, 2020.
- For the District of Columbia Circuit – John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice
- For the First Circuit – Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice
(Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island)
- For the Second Circuit – Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice(Connecticut, New York, Vermont)
- For the Third Circuit – Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice(Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virgin Island)
- For the Fourth Circuit – John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice(Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia)
- For the Fifth Circuit – Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice(Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas)
- For the Sixth Circuit – Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice(Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee)
- For the Seventh Circuit – Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice(Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin)
- For the Eighth Circuit – Brett M. Kavanaugh, Associate Justice(Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota)
- For the Ninth Circuit – Elena Kagan, Associate Justice(Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Washington)
- For the Tenth Circuit – Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice(Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming)
- For the Eleventh Circuit – Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice(Alabama, Florida, Georgia)
- For the Federal Circuit – John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice.
Here is a the map showing the geographical areas covered by each of the circuits:
New: The Supreme Court has released new “circuit assignments.” Each justice initially handles emergency appeals that arise from the area covered by their assigned circuit(s). Barrett gets her old court: the 7th Circuit. Sotomayor takes over the 2nd Circuit (previously Ginsburg). pic.twitter.com/eF34IZQp67
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) November 20, 2020
What does this mean?
Law & Crime breaks it down:
The federal court system is made up of district courts, appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. After a case has made its way through one of the nation’s 94 trial courts, a party may appeal to the circuit court in their jurisdiction. The image below helpfully outlines what the circuit boundaries are and identifies them by circuit number.
The Supreme Court helpfully explains, at length, why the justices’ circuit assignments matter. Petitioners will submit emergency applications to an individual justice. A recent example? Pennsylvania Republicans (in the Third Circuit) submitted an emergency application with Justice Samuel Alito, asking for an injunction in an election-related case. Alito responded by granting the request himself 33 to the rest of the Supreme Court.
You may have noticed as well that petitions for a writ of certiorari (a petition for SCOTUS to hear a case) note which circuit the petition is coming from: On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the _____ Circuit.
“[F]our of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case. Five of the nine Justices must vote in order to grant a stay, e.g., a stay of execution in a death penalty case,” the high court’s rules note. “Under certain instances, one Justice may grant a stay pending review by the entire Court.”