Burger warns of high-court overload
February 7, 1983
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Angeles Times NEW ORLEANS - Chief Justice Warren Burger, warning that the Supreme Court's swelling workload is approaching "disaster" level, called Sunday for a new national tribunal to decide all conflicts between federal appeals courts - now one of the Supreme Court's major tasks. If Congress enacted Burger's proposal, which he presented to the American Bar Association's midwinter meeting here, it would mark the most sweeping change in the nation's judicial structure since Congress established the federal courts of appeals 92 years ago. "We can no longer tolerate the vacuous notion that we can get along with the present structure 'because we have always done it that way,' " Burger said in his annual State of the Judiciary speech. Burger proposed that the new court have only a five-year life to provide immediate relief to the caseload, during which time a commission would work out longer-term solutions for the "tidal wave" of new cases that, Burger said, threatens to engulf the Supreme Court. "Only fundamental changes in structure and jurisdiction will ... avoid a breakdown of the system - or of some of the justices," he said. Burger noted that the 5,311 cases on the docket in the term that ended last July represented an increase of 270 percent from the caseload in 1953, the year that his predecessor Earl Warren, took command of the court. Ove; the same 19-year span, signed opinions by the justices that, Burger said, are the best measure of the court's workload, more than