Development of an administrative body within the federal judiciary.
Administrative capabilities developed more slowly in the courts than in either the legislative or executive branches. One of the first laws passed by Congress was the 1789 Judiciary Act.
The bureaucracy that existed in the federal court system was confined to patronage
The 1925 Judiciary Act took an additional step in limiting the Supreme Court’s workload by giving the justices control over their docket. After 1925 the justices could decide which cases they would hear. However, even after gaining control over the docket, the judiciary had little control over the administration of the court system. The Justice Department continued to act as the administrator of the courts. The U.S. attorney general was responsible for determining salaries
Disagreements with the Justice Department prompted judges to try to remove administrative power from the department. With the appointment of William H. Taft to chief justice, control over administration became a major issue.
One of Taft’s first steps was the formation of the
With the conference in place, the judiciary moved to assert more administrative control over its budget and working conditions. A 1939 law formed the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
A third institution created to aid federal courts in administration was the Federal Judicial Center.
As the federal courts became more efficient, it placed greater pressure on the Supreme Court, which was eventually forced to bureaucratize its own work. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger initiated reforms of the Court to handle the increased workload.
The Burger Court also experienced an increase in the clerical support for each justice. The number of law clerks increased to three per justice, and each chamber was provided the resources to hire an administrative staff. As a miniature bureaucracy formed within each chamber, the Court began to operate on the lines of nine individual law firms.
As the demands on the federal judiciary became greater, the judges created a bureaucracy that allowed for more efficient administration of justice.
Carp, Robert, and Ronald Stidham. The Federal Courts. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1985. Fish, Peter. The Politics of Federal Judicial Administration. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973. Surrency, Erwin. History of the Federal Courts. New York: Oceana, 1987.
Burger, Warren E.
Certiorari, writ of
Clerk of the Court
Conference of the justices
Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Acts of 1801-1925
Taft, William H.