Circuit assignments in the Marshall Court

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Riding circuit was one of the responsibilities of U.S. Supreme Court justices during the Marshall Court (1801–1835). Under the Judiciary Act of 1801, the United States federal judicial districts were divided into six (and later seven) United States circuit courts—one for each justice. Rather than appointing separate circuit judges (with the exception of the brief interlude under the soon-repealed Midnight Judges Act), the circuit courts were staffed by a combination of the resident United States district court judges from that district and the Supreme Court justice assigned to that circuit (either could preside alone or they could preside together).

While the circuits were the unit of circuit riding assignments, the individual circuit courts were referred to by the name of the judicial district (e.g. "United States Circuit Court for the District of New Hampshire," or, in case citations, C.C.D.N.H.).

Some districts were not within any circuit (for example, under the Judiciary Act of 1801: Maine, Kentucky, and Tennessee). These district courts exercised the powers of circuit courts, and appeals from the district court were possible only to the Supreme Court. Circuit riding did not occur within such districts.

History of the circuit courts[edit]

History of the assignments[edit]

Period First circuit Second circuit Third circuit Fourth circuit Fifth circuit Sixth circuit Seventh circuit
1802–1804 Cushing Paterson Washington Chase Marshall Moore N/A
1804–1806 Johnson
1807–1810 Livingston Todd
1810–1811 Vacant
1811–1812 Story Duvall
1812–1823
1823–1826 Thompson
1826–1828 Trimble
1828–1829 McLean
1830–1834 Baldwin
1835 Wayne