Congress has many available tools to influence the federal judiciary. In this article, we consider Congress' ability to balance, or stack, the courts through the creation of federal judgeships. While caseload pressure often produces the need for more judgeships, we demonstrate that political party alignment between Congress and the president often determines the timing of the judicial expansion. The net effect of expanding during political alignment is to speed up changes in the political balance of the judiciary in favor of the current Congress. We also examine the determinants of expansion size and show that both political alignment and caseload pressure influence Congress' decision regarding how many judgeships to add.
John M. de Figueiredo & Emerson H. Tiller, Congressional Control of the Courts: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Expansion of the Federal Judiciary, 39 Journal of Law and Economics 435-462 (1996)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Courts, United States magistrates, United States. Congress