The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which encompasses Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico, is small not only in terms of the geographic area it encompasses, but more important, it is the regional circuit with the smallest number of judgeships. Indeed, for many years, it had only three judgeships—the same size as regular United States court of appeals panels.
Because of its small size and caseload, the First Circuit has not received much attention. Receiving far more attention have been the “old” Fifth Circuit before it was divided, because of its importance in the implementation of school desegregation; the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit), considered by many to be the nation’s preeminent administrative law court; the Seventh Circuit, because the University of Chicago law professors on the court have brought a law-and-economics approach to it; and the Ninth Circuit, the nation’s largest, because of efforts to divide it and because of the Supreme Court’s reversal of its decisions. . .