20 Facts About the United States Courts of Appeals


The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system.

An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court, court of appeals, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal.

The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three co-equal branches of the federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.

In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed, where parties request a formal change to an official decision.


A court of appeals decides appeals from the district courts within its federal judicial circuit, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies.


The United States courts of appeals are considered among the most powerful and influential courts in the United States.


Because of their ability to set legal precedent in regions that cover millions of Americans, the United States courts of appeals have strong policy influence on U.S. law.

In common law legal systems, a precedent, or authority, is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.


Moreover, because the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to review less than 2% of the more than 7,000 to 8,000 cases filed with it annually, the United States courts of appeals serve as the final arbiter on most federal cases.


The Ninth Circuit in particular is very influential, covering 20% of the American population.


There are currently 179 judges on the United States courts of appeals authorized by Congress and Article III of the U.S. Constitution.


These judges are nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate.

The United States Senate is a legislative chamber in the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the House of Representatives makes up the U.S. Congress.

The President of the United States of America is the elected head of state and head of government of the United States.


They have lifetime tenure, earning an annual salary of $215,400.


There are thirteen United States courts of appeals, although there are other tribunals that have "Court of Appeals" in their titles, such as the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which hears appeals in court-martial cases, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which reviews final decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is a federal court of record that was established under Article I of the United States Constitution, and is thus referred to as an Article I tribunal.


The eleven numbered circuits and the D.C. Circuit are geographically defined.


The thirteenth court of appeals is the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has nationwide jurisdiction over certain appeals based on their subject matter.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a United States court of appeals headquartered in Washington, D.C. The court was created by Congress with passage of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, which merged the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the United States Court of Claims, making the judges of the former courts into circuit judges.


All of the courts of appeals also hear appeals from some administrative agency decisions and rulemaking, with by far the largest share of these cases heard by the D.C. Circuit.


The Federal Circuit hears appeals from specialized trial courts, primarily the United States Court of International Trade and the United States Court of Federal Claims, as well as appeals from the district courts in patent cases and certain other specialized matters.

The United States Court of International Trade, formerly the United States Customs Court, and before that the Board of General Appraisers, is an Article III court, with full powers in law and equity.

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.

A trial court or court of first instance is a court having original jurisdiction, in which trials takes place.


Decisions of the United States courts of appeals have been published by the private company West Publishing in the Federal Reporter series since the courts were established.


Only decisions that the courts designate for publication are included.


The "unpublished" opinions are published separately in West's Federal Appendix, and they are also available in on-line databases like LexisNexis or Westlaw.

Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West.

LexisNexis Group is a corporation providing computer-assisted legal research as well as business research and risk management services.


More recently, court decisions are also available electronically on the official court websites.


However, there are also a few federal court decisions that are classified for national security reasons.


The circuit with the smallest number of appellate judges is the First Circuit, and the one with the largest number of appellate judges is the geographically-large and populous Ninth Circuit in the Far West.

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