There are 13 Circuit Courts in the United States of America. A Circuit Court is an intermediate appellate court in the United States Federal court system. A Circuit Court can hear appeals that arise from the district courts located within their respective Federal judicial circuits. With the exception of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has jurisdiction based upon subject matter, the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court is determined based on the geographic location in which the original ruling is handed down.
The Circuit Courts serve as the final arbiter of most Federal cases since the Supreme Court of the United States of America has a small docket, hearing less than 100 cases each year.
179 judges serve on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. An appointment to one of the Circuit Courts is for a lifelong tenure and is subject to nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate. The First Circuit Court is the circuit served by the smallest number of judges, which is appropriate because it is the smallest and least populated circuit. The Ninth Circuit Court is the most populated and has the most judges.
The Circuit Court of Appeals is considered to be among the most powerful and influential courts in the nation. Since the legal precedents set by these courts can affect millions of people, the role of these courts is controversial.