The Judiciary Act of 1801, also known as the "Midnight Judges Act," was an act passed by Congress during President John Adams' administration. The act established sixteen new federal circuit courts and increased the number of Supreme Court justices from five to seven. It was designed to strengthen the Federalist Party's control over judicial appointments before Thomas Jefferson assumed office in March 1801.
The legislation has far-reaching implications for how cases will be handled in America's court system. It provided that each state should have at least one district court with two or more judges assigned to it, depending on its population size; all criminal trials were now held locally instead of being sent directly to a higher court; appeals could only be made if there was a difference between local laws and national ones; and jurisdiction over certain types of maritime disputes shifted from state courts to federal ones.
In addition, it created what is now known as "the circuit riding judge": appointed justices who would travel around their respective circuits hearing cases in each district court along the way. This allowed for greater consistency among rulings across different states and territories—a major advantage given that many areas lacked lawyers skilled enough to argue complex legal matters at trial level (and often did not even have access to them). Finally, it gave President Adams six months in which he could appoint additional judges while still under his own party's control before handing power over to Jefferson's incoming Democratic-Republican government—hence why this period became known as the'midnight hour'.