Welcome!

The D.C. Circuit is one of the thirteen federal court circuits and consists of the U.S. District Court (a federal trial court) and the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Circuit covers the smallest geographic area of any of the circuits - its jurisdiction extends only to Washington D.C. – but it historically has had an outsized influence on the law as a frequent forum for litigation involving federal government agencies. The Historical Society, which was started in 1990, brings the Circuit's rich legacy to life through articles and oral histories, reenactments, displays and publications, archival preservation, and a mock appellate argument program for area high school students.

What's New

FEB
1

Robert Bork Many men and women wax nostalgic in the oral histories they give the Society, looking back warmly and fondly on their careers, but not so Circuit Judge Robert Bork. He frankly didn't seem to care much for his time on the bench. Based on his reading of the oral history, John Lockwood, a George Washington Law School student, delivers an interesting account of how Judge Bork found life on the bench.








JAN
18

Bruce Terris New Oral History: Attorney Bruce Terris
Can an advocate shape the law more than a Supreme Court justice can? If his name is Bruce Terris, "Almost yes." Early in his career, as an aide to Solicitor General Archibald Cox, Terris convinced Cox to argue for one-man, one-vote in the Tennessee reapportionment case Baker v. Carr in the Supreme Court even though Cox, after his argument prevailed, said the Court was wrong. Terris' gifted, clear recounting in his oral history of issues he addressed in litigation over the years shows why he came out on top. Credit also goes to interviewer Steve Steinbach, who did a superb job of structuring the topics and asking the right questions. Both demonstrate how valuable oral histories can be to recounting the history of an era.











JAN
07

Newsletter Read the Society's Latest Newsletter
The Society's most recent newsletter includes a video link to our Separation of Powers program, pictures from our Law Clerk Reception, information on our upcoming Mock Court program, and wonderful stories and facts from recently released oral histories.







DEC
21

Separation of Powers Separation of Powers and the Independent Counsel: Morrison v. Olson Revisited
If you missed the Society's program on Morrison v. Olson and the re-enactment by Theodore B. Olson and Catherine Stetson, you can view it now in its entirety. Listen to the background of the case, watch the re-enactment of the separation of powers arguments presented to the Court of Appeals, and listen to a panel discussion about the separation of powers doctrine, the influence of the Morrison v. Olson decisions, and the case's legacy.







DEC
14

John Aldock John Aldock's career is filled with adventure. He began by clerking for D.C. District Judge Luther Youngdahl, who he describes as looking like "God in the Sistine Chapel." In Aldock's telling, Youngdahl is larger than life. Read more...




DEC
7

Judge Gesell Judge Gerhard Gesell was no stranger to the spotlight by the time he presided over the Watergate Seven trials in 1974. Decades earlier, as a young lawyer in Washington D.C., he participated in the controversial post-war congressional inquiry into who was at fault for allowing the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. He talked about this in the the oral history he gave to the D.C. Circuit Historical Society, providing fascinating insight into the inner workings of the American political system in the face of the chaos of December 7, 1941. Read more...





DEC
2

Law Clerk Reception Over 200 current and former law clerks and judges from the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit gathered on November 16, 2015 in the Courthouse's Bryant Atrium for a lively reception hosted by the Historical Society's Law Clerk Initiative. Read more and see photographs from the event.





NOV
18

Herbert Miller Confronting the mob in the 1960's as told by Bobby Kennedy's Criminal Division Chief Jack Miller. Read more.





NOV
10

Judge Jackson Why do two official photographs of our U.S. District Courts include a judge who was never appointed to the District Court? Discover why Judge Joseph Raymond Jackson sat on District Court cases and his impact on the federal judiciary.







NOV
06

Mock Court 2015 Become a Mentor!
The 2016 Mock Argument Program will be held March 11, 2016. We need volunteer attorney mentors for over 100 high school students.

The time commitment is small and personal reward is great.

Click here for more information.









OCT
26

Jodie Bernstein Jodie Bernstein: The Efficient Leader
Illustrating what a rich resource the Society's oral histories are, Genevieve Beske, a student and intern for the Society used Joan "Jodie" Bernstein's oral history to write this short but fascinating article about Bernstein's deft, two-year chairing of the U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians that recommended reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War II.









OCT
15

Separation of Powers Read the Society's Latest Newsletter
The Society's most recent newsletter will introduce you to an exhibit of the official photographs of our U.S. District Courts and their predecessor Courts since 1863 and inform you about our October 28 Program on the Separation of Powers doctrie and our November 16 Law Clerk Reception.









OCT
06

Separation of Powers Separation of Powers and the Independent Counsel: Morrison v. Olson Revisited
4:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 28, 2015 Ceremonial Courtroom

The Society is proud to present our next program, featuring a reenactment of the D.C. Circuit argument in Morrison v. Olson. Senior Judge Laurence Silberman will preside over the argument, with Theodore B. Olson (representing himself) and Catherine E. Stetson (representing the Independent Counsel). They will be joined by Professor Amanda Frost of American University, who will set the stage, and former Chief Judge Patricia M. Wald, who will moderate a panel discussion on the separation of powers doctrine, the influence of the Court of Appeals and subsequent Supreme Court decisions, and the case's legacy today.

Everyone is welcome; no attendence charge.