Welcome!

The D.C. Circuit was created in 1801 and consists of the two federal courts for the District of Columbia: the U.S. District Court (a federal trial court) and the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the Circuit is responsible for the smallest geographic area of any of the thirteen federal circuits - its jurisdiction extends only to Washington D.C. - it historically has had an outsized influence on the law as a frequent forum for litigation involving federal government agencies. The Historical Society brings the Circuit's rich legacy to life through a variety of activities including articles and oral histories, reenactments, displays and publications, archival preservation, and mock arguments involving area high school students.

The Historical Society began its work in 1990 by commissioning Professor Jeffrey Brandon Morris to write a definitive history of the first 200 years of the D.C. Circuit Courts, Calmly to Poise the Scales of Justice: A History of the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit. The printed book is available on request, but most of the Society's archival material is online at this Web site. This includes a fascinating and expanding collection of oral histories from noted judges and practitioners. In addition, the Web site houses the Society's burgeoning collection of articles on the Circuit's history contributed by scholars and lawyers.

This site also includes four significant exhibits the Society has developed -- an informative exhibit about the historic work of the D. C. Circuit Courts, currently on display on the first floor of the Courthouse, an exhibit of the portraits of 84 U.S. District Court judges, an exhibit of the portraits and sculptures of 37 U.S. Court of Appeals judges, and an on-line exhibit featuring the official photographs of all the Courts of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit from 1905 until 1977, the final year of the Bazelon Courts.

What's New

JUL
30

Judge Henry Kennedy explains his interest in a case on Cherokee Nation history, sovereign immunity.

JUL
27

Read about Judge William Bryant's Early Years - An Interesting Addition to his Oral History
The oral history of Judge William Bryant, long available on the Society's website, has recently been enhanced by the addition of two interviews with Judge Bryant about his family and early years and his descriptions of Washington in the 1920s and 1930s. These interviews were not available at the time the oral history was first published.

JUL
22

David Ginsburg recalls experiences from Professor Frankfurter to the SEC to the White House and all in between. Learn more and follow us on Twitter.

JUL
20

Two Former District Court Judges Eulogized
Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts delivered a eulogy for Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, and Judge David S. Tatel delivered a eulogy for Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer at the D. C. Circuit Judicial Conference on June 24, 2015.

JUL
13
JUL
03

July Newsletter In the Historical Society's July newsletter, you can read Chief Judge Garland's remarks about the Historical Society and its 25th anniversary, read tributes to Judges Oberdorfer and Jackson, discover what a Washington lawyer learned from the students he helped prepare for their Mock Court arguments, check out the Society's social media platforms, and more.







JUN
29

Lloyd Cutler Lloyd N. Cutler
Board member Stuart Taylor has contributed to the Society's website the eulogy he wrote upon Lloyd Cutler's passing in 2005. It begins: "There will never be another superlawyer on the scale of Lloyd Cutler.... This is not to deny the possibility that someone, somewhere may replicate the dazzling array of talents that made Cutler the pre-eminent lawyer-statesman of his generation: intellectual brilliance, wisdom, public-spiritedness, eloquence, genius for grasping the interests of everyone around the table, and passion for forging consensus solutions to hard problems. But even if more such people walk among us, the political and legal environments that enabled Cutler to be Cutler no longer exist." Read the eulogy in full and read Lloyd Cutler's oral history.










JUN
22

Twitter and Facebook
The Historical Society is posting on Twitter and Facebook vignettes from the oral histories it has taken. Our first post: "Joseph L. Rauh Jr. recalls the battle for civil rights positions at '64 Democratic Convention." Follow us on Twitter @CircuitHistory and visit our Facebook page.


JUN
17

End of an Era
Regarded as a high water mark of laissez faire capitalism, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1922 nullified a D.C. minimum wage law guaranteeing women hotel and hospital workers at least 34-and-a-half cents an hour or $16.50 a week. Read more...


JUN
1

Did you know that before the Civil War, the Marshal for the District of Columbia was unsalaried but earned large fees by selling food to prisoners and by engaging in other more heinous acts? See Scandalous Fees

MAY
12

The Historical Society is now able to process online applications for new individual and law firm memberships as well as for membership renewals. To join or renew your membership, visit our membership page.

MAY
04

Welcome to Five New Board Members
Meredith Fuchs, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Amy Jeffress, Arnold & Porter LLP; Stuart S. Taylor, Jr., The Brookings Institution; K. Chris Todd, Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel PLLC; and Helgi C. Walker, Gibson Dunn; have joined the Historical Society Board and were welcomed at the Society's annual meeting on April 29, 2015.