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Circuit Judges Act

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Title: Circuit Judges Act  
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Subject: James Moore Wayne
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Circuit Judges Act

The Judiciary Act of 1869 (16 federal judiciary.

First, judgeships were created for the circuit courts; in this case, one circuit judgeship was created for each of the nine circuits. Up until this time, circuit courts were normally only staffed by district judges and Supreme Court justices "riding circuit." This was actually the third time that Congress had created circuit judgeships, but the first time was the soon-repealed Judiciary Act of 1801, and the second was a single circuit judgeship in the frontier state of California which only lasted from 1855 to 1863. This law did not abolish circuit riding, but significantly reduced its burden by requiring each justice to attend circuit court in each district within his circuit only once every two years. Circuit riding would later be abolished by the Judiciary Act of 1891, and the circuit courts themselves by the Judicial Code of 1911.

Second, for the first time, federal judges (including Supreme Court justices) were given the option to retire with a pension. The pension was set at the salary of the judge at the time of retirement, and a judge had to be at least seventy years old and have ten years of service on the federal bench before being allowed to retire.

This Act also set the Supreme Court at its current size of nine justices. The Judicial Circuits Act of 1866 had reduced the Court from ten to seven justices, although the reduction was to occur only as seats became vacant. As only two seats were vacated between 1866 and 1869, the Court had eight justices at the time of this Act, so one new seat was created.

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