Who Decides How Many Federal Courts We Have?

The U.S. Congress and the president determine how many federal courts exist in the country. The Constitution vests Congress with the power to pass legislation, subject to approval by the president, that establishes all inferior federal courts.

Inferior federal courts include all courts in the federal system with the exception of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court is established by the U.S. Constitution. Article One of the Constitution grants Congress, upon approval of the president, the authority regarding court creation in the federal system. The power of Congress over the creation and elimination of inferior federal courts is broad and technically constrained only by the veto power of the president.