Appellate Courts: Operation and Reform Seminar

Credit Hours: 2

This course will examine the practices and powers of American appellate courts, with a particular emphasis on the federal courts of appeals.  Discussion will focus on the goals of these institutions and the extent to which individual components of the appellate decision-making process—including oral argument and opinion-writing—further those goals.  The class will then consider, in the mode of the Biden Commission, proposals to reform various American appellate courts—from increasing the number of jurists on the bench to limiting the courts’ jurisdiction (and many more in between).  Over the course of the semester, the goal is to have students evaluate what they think are the fundamental objectives of appellate review and whether the current structure of the courts allows them to meet those goals.