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A Bill to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States (Judiciary Act of 1789), June 12, 1789

The Judiciary Act of 1789 provided for six Supreme Court justices to review federal civil cases and appeals from state courts in, and to hear original cases in select categories stated in the Constitution. The act created thirteen judicial districts, each with a federal district court and a circuit court, where two Supreme Court justices and a federal district judge heard major trials and appeals of district court decisions.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

A Bill to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States A Bill to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States A Bill to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States

Congress Creates the Federal Court System

The U.S. Constitution established the nation’s Supreme Court but left Congress to determine the structure of the federal court system. In the Judiciary Act of 1789, the First Congress (1789-1791) established district and circuit courts, defined the federal courts’ jurisdiction and appellate powers, and created the position of U.S. attorney general. Although amended many times, the act remains the foundation of the U.S. judicial system.

I consider a proper arrangement of the judiciary, however difficult to establish, among the best securities the government will have

Senator Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, Letter to Richard Law, August 4, 1789