President Trump's acknowledgment this week that he has considered breaking up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals breathed new life into a Republican proposal that has languished in Congress for years.
GOP lawmakers whose constituents live within the 9th's expansive appellate jurisdiction have repeatedly introduced legislation that would carve a 12th Circuit out of states currently covered by the 9th.
But Democrats have argued that efforts to divide the West Coast circuit are politically motivated given the historic liberal leanings of its judges, and support or opposition for the proposal has broken down along largely partisan lines.
Here are six considerations for breaking up the 9th.
Litigants in the 9th must wait significantly longer to have their cases resolved.
Because the 9th Circuit is so much bigger geographically than other appellate courts, cases can get caught in a bureaucratic logjam and force litigants to wait long periods of time to see results.
"The median time for appeal is far above the average," an aide to Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, told the Washington Examiner. "Basically, what you have is a court that's overburdened."
Sullivan is one of several Republican lawmakers who has introduced legislation that would divide the 9th Circuit, which includes Alaska. With nine states and two U.S. territories under the 9th's appellate jurisdiction, the circuit serves roughly 20 percent of the country despite being just one of the 11 circuits that hear appeals.
"All Americans should feel assured that when they seek justice, the time it takes to achieve justice won't be shorter or longer depending on the part of the country in which they live," Sullivan said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. "However, because of the disproportionate caseload for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one-in-five Americans do not get equal justice under the law."
The 9th may not be as liberal as it used to be.
Trump and other Republicans have criticized the liberal leanings of the 9th Circuit, which has a high proportion of Democrat appointees serving as judges. The president's ill-fated travel ban was blocked on appeal when the 9th Circuit upheld the decision of the Seattle judge who originally halted it.
But Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, says the leftward bent of the 9th is sometimes exaggerated.
"I think to some extent it's dated, the notion that the 9th Circuit is very liberal," Tobias said.
While the circuit gained a reputation for leaning left with Jimmy Carter's appointments, it is "less liberal today than it used to be," Tobias said. He noted Barack Obama's appointments to the 9th have been "moderate."
The 9th Circuit is too big for complete "en banc" reviews.
Parties can request that their appeal be heard "en banc," meaning every judge on a court would consider the appeal. However, in the 9th Circuit, litigants don't have access to full en banc hearings because the court is simply too big.
"In every other circuit you can do that, but in the 9th Circuit, you can't do that because there's too many judges," Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told the Washington Examiner.
Biggs noted that the limited en banc procedures that take place in the 9th Circuit could result in a hearing that includes a disproportionate concentration of judges, defeating the purpose of the procedure, which aims to give litigants a broader audience.
"This is not representative, and not was intended by the dividing of the courts into circuits like that," Biggs said. The Arizona Republican has introduced legislation in the House that would reorganize the 9th Circuit.
People have talked about splitting up the 9th Circuit since the 1940s.
The idea of breaking up the 9th Circuit is not new. Proposals have existed since before World War II.
"Even since the '40s, various members of Congress and others have thought the court was too big and so wanted to reconfigure it in different ways," Tobias said.
"There has been less interest, partly because Democratic presidents are likely to veto it, and often it is split along party lines," he said.
A congressionally chartered commission recommended breaking up the 9th in 1973.
When Congress created a commission in 1973 to study the circuit courts, lawmakers received several recommendations to make the system more efficient. One was to create an 11th Circuit out of areas that were, at the time, included under the 5th.
That split occurred in 1981 at the suggestion of the Hruska Commission, created at the request of former Republican Sen. Roman Hruska.
But a second recommendation of that commission, to actually break up the 9th Circuit, was ignored. Proponents of the circuit reorganization have continued to cite the Hruska Commission when arguing in favor of a split.
Supreme Court justices have argued in favor of splitting the 9th.
Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas have backed efforts to break up the largest circuit court in the country.
In 2007, the two testified before Congress that the 9th Circuit could no longer efficiently serve citizens under its jurisdiction.
"For some years ... I've taken the public position that the 9th Circuit is too large and should be split," Kennedy said. "I saw firsthand that it is simply too big to have the collegiality that it ought to have."