Ways of Making Appointments to Specialized Courts — A Bleg For Past Examples

The statute that creates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has been criticized recently for allowing the Chief Justice to make all of the appointments to the FISC without any oversight. Here’s the relevant text:

The Chief Justice of the United States shall publicly designate 11 district court judges from at least seven of the United States judicial circuits of whom no fewer than 3 shall reside within 20 miles of the District of Columbia who shall constitute a court which shall have jurisdiction to hear applications for and grant orders approving electronic surveillance anywhere within the United States under the procedures set forth in this chapter[.]

50 U.S.C. 1803(a)(1).

One thought that came to mind after reading the criticisms was a comparative question: How has the membership on other specialized part-time Article III courts been determined? One current example that comes to mind is the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. It appears that those positions also are selected by the Chief Justice:

The judicial panel on multidistrict litigation shall consist of seven circuit and district judges designated from time to time by the Chief Justice of the United States, no two of whom shall be from the same circuit.

28 U.S.C. 1407(d).

But there are several other examples from the past. For example, the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 created a special court that existed until the late 1990s. From 1942-1961, and from 1971-1992, there was an Emergency Court of Appeals consisting of selected circuit judges who heard appeals about price controls.

I’m curious, to the extent anyone knows: How were the members of those or other specialized part-time Article III courts selected? I’m curious if they all gave the appointment power to the Chief Justice, or if they used other approaches — and if they have used other approaches, what they were.

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