Courts: The Fascinating & Frenetic Fifth

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Suspect Solution. Even if Southerner Lyndon Johnson solves the formidable problem of getting Democratic Southern Senators to approve two Southerners of the type the Fifth deserves, the trouble is that nine judges cannot handle the court's runaway caseload. There are two alternatives: add judges or cut the load. Because some experts insist that appellate courts should have no more than nine judges, Congress will shortly be asked to reduce the Fifth's jurisdiction by creating a new seven-judge circuit court to handle Texas, Louisiana and the Canal Zone.

But this plan, backed by Senator Eastland, includes provisions for all but stripping the Fifth of moderate judges. As the new circuit court is set up, it would get Texas' Brown and Louisiana's Wisdom, leaving the Fifth with only Rives and Tuttle as moderates, and Tuttle would soon be succeeded as chief judge by the traditionalist Alabamian Gewin.

To the plan's critics, who include the South's most enlightened judges, the best solution is to keep the Fifth intact, while adding more and more good judges to handle the load. As they put it, There is no magic in the number nine." The real magic lies in preserving a great court that balances local feelings against the needs of the region and the nation.

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