United States Courts of Appeals

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The United States Courts of Appeals are the intermediate level of the three-tiered federal judiciary. These courts are between the United States Supreme Court and the United States District Courts. They serve as the first courts of review in the federal judiciary. The courts are created by the provision of Article III, section 1, of the United States Constitution, which addresses the judicial power of the United States and places it in the United States Supreme Court and "such inferior courts" as the Congress may create through legislation.

The United States Courts of Appeals consist of fourteen individual courts: thirteen defined by geography and one by jurisdiction. These courts are the regional courts numbered the First through Twelfth Circuits and the District of Columbia Circuit. The Federal Circuit is defined by its jurisdiction created in 1982 out of the then existing Court of Claims and the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.

The Courts of Appeals were created by the Circuit Courts of Appeals Act in 1891. These courts were created in reaction to the lack of institutional capacity in the existing federal judiciary which had not been significantly changed since the enactment of the Judiciary Act of 1789.

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