Courts of Last Resort

The federal courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts between the trial courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Appellate courts are the last resort for most litigants, deciding more than 31,700 cases a year, compared with just 75 or so decided annually by the Supreme Court. The impact of President Bush's judicial appointments is most often noticed at the Supreme Court, but it has played out more frequently and importantly in the nation's 13 Circuit Courts of Appeals, where his choices have created Republican- appointed majorities in three more courts.

[Chart: The wedge shows the total gain in Bush appointees on each appellate court since 2001.]

© 2008 The Washington Post Company