Saturday, March 25, 2006

Immigration is Coming! Immigration is Coming!

Uh oh. Is immigration coming to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? According to this article in the New York Times, it might be. Or maybe not. People seems upset about the idea. Except for those that proposed it.

Here's the thing, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit spends most of its time on patent cases. The rest is a mix of customs and trade, trademark, claims against the U.S., and certain federal employee complaints. The Senate is contemplating dropping about 12,000 immigration appeals on the Court and expanding it by three judges. The case load for individual judges would jump from 125 to 900.

I don't have much of an opinion on this is, but I think it is interesting. The idea seems to be that these cases are burdening the overloaded regional circuit courts and the Federal Circuit has the capacity to handle additional cases. Another point is that as a single forum, the Federal Circuit would provide a more uniform interpretation of the immigration laws. Of course, I worry that the the very significant increase in cases might delay action in customs and trade cases. The patent bar has apparently expressed a similar concern.

It looks as if Illinois' own Sen. Durbin will move to kill this proposal. We'll have to see. Another interesting question is whether opening discussions regarding the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit might break open discussions on expanding the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of International Trade.

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