By the original Judiciary Act of 1789 provision was made for inferior federal courts to be known as District and Circuit Courts. The territory of the Union was divided into districts composed of a State or portions of a State, for each of which a district and a Circuit".Court was provided; and these districts were grouped into circuits to each of which a Justice of the Supreme Court was assigned as Circuit Judge. With the exception of minor changes, as for example, the creation of new districts and circuits and making provision for Circuit Judges in addition to the Justices of the Supreme Court, the system thus established remained undisturbed for over one hundred years. In 1891, Congress created a new class of federal tribunals known as the Circuit •Courts of Appeals, one of these being assigned to each of the existing nine circuits.

As at present constituted, therefore, the federal judicial machinery consists of a Supreme Court, Circuit Courts of Appeal, Circuit Courts, and District Courts. In addition there are a Court of Claims, and the Judiciary of the District of Columbia.