J, Judiciary Act of 1866.
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall
Judiciary Act of 1866.
This statute set the number of justices at seven, reducing by three the then ten-member court. Congress had originally fixed the size of the court at six, then increased it to seven in 1807, nine in 1837, and ten in 1863. When Representative James Wilson of Iowa, Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced what became the Judiciary Act of 1866, he proposed to reduce the size of the Court by one, to nine, thereby creating an odd number of justices and making the Court more manageable. The Senate, however, urged a reduction by attrition to seven, to which the House ultimately agreed. The 1866 act effectively prevented President Andrew Johnson from making any appointments, although Johnson signed the legislation, suggesting his acquiescence in, if not outright support for, the measure. Moreover, Chief Justice Salmon P. *Chase had urged the reduction in an unsuccessful effort to persuade Congress to increase the salaries of the remaining justices. The Court’s ranks dropped to eight in 1867, when Justice James Moore *Wayne died, but they were increased to nine again by the *Judiciary Act of 1869; since then the Court has remained at this number. The 1866 act retained the existing nine-circuit arrangement but reduced the number of southern circuits from three to two.
Kermit L. Hall