Ashurst-Sumners Act | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Courts

The Ashurst-Sumners Act, also known as the Federal Docket Equalization Act, established a formula to allocate cases to federal courts in a fair manner.

The Ashurst-Sumners Act, also known as the Federal Docket Equalization Act, is an important federal law that was enacted in 1935. At the time of its passage, the federal courts were facing a significant backlog of cases, which had been caused by a variety of factors, including an increase in the number of federal laws, a growing population, and the Great Depression. The Ashurst-Sumners Act was designed to address this problem by creating a more equitable distribution of cases among the federal courts.

The Act established a formula for determining the number of cases that each federal court was required to dispose of each year based on the population of the court’s jurisdiction and the number of judges on the court. This formula ensured that courts with larger populations and more judges were required to handle a proportionally larger number of cases, while smaller courts with fewer judges were required to handle a smaller number of cases.

In addition to establishing the case allocation formula, the Ashurst-Sumners Act also authorized the appointment of additional judges to help relieve overcrowded dockets in certain courts. This provision allowed the federal government to respond quickly to changes in caseloads and to ensure that all courts had sufficient resources to handle their caseloads in a timely and efficient manner.

The Ashurst-Sumners Act was a significant piece of legislation that had a lasting impact on the federal court system. By establishing a more equitable distribution of cases among the federal courts, the Act helped to reduce the backlog of cases and ensure that the courts were able to operate more efficiently. The Act also helped to ensure that all citizens had equal access to the federal court system, regardless of where they lived or the size of the court in their jurisdiction.

Today, the Ashurst-Sumners Act remains in effect and continues to play a role in shaping the workload of the federal courts. The Act has been amended over the years to reflect changes in the size and population of the country, but its basic principles remain intact. The Act is an important part of the legal landscape in the United States and a testament to the government’s commitment to ensuring that the federal court system is able to operate effectively and efficiently.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 05/04/2023

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