Nguyen v. United States, 539 U.S. 69, 8 (2003)

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76

NGUYEN v. UNITED STATES

Opinion of the Court

state courts "within" the Ninth Circuit.8 The statute cannot plausibly be interpreted to authorize the improper panel assignment in these cases.

Moreover, we do not read the designation statute without regard for the "historic significance" of the term "United States District Court" used in Title 28. Mookini v. United States, 303 U. S. 201, 205 (1938). "[W]ithout an addition expressing a wider connotation," that term ordinarily excludes Article IV territorial courts, even when their jurisdiction is similar to that of a United States District Court created under Article III. Ibid. See also Summers v. United States, 231 U. S. 92, 101-102 (1913) ("[T]he courts of the Territories may have such jurisdiction of cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States as is vested in the circuit and district courts, but this does not make them circuit and district courts of the United States"); Stephens v. Cherokee Nation, 174 U. S. 445, 476-477 (1899) ("It must be admitted that the words 'United States District Court' were not accurately used . . . [to refer to] the United States Court in the Indian Territory"). Construing the relevant statutory provisions together with further aid from historical usage, it is evident that Congress did not contemplate the judges of the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands to be "district judges" within the meaning of 292(a). It necessarily follows that the appointment of one member of the panel deciding petitioners' appeals was unauthorized.9

8 Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington are all States within the Ninth Circuit whose judiciaries include "district judges." See Alaska Stat. 22.15.010, 22.15.020, 22.20.010 (2002); Haw. Const., Art. VI, 1; Haw. Rev. Stat. 604-1 (1993); Idaho Const., Art. V, 11; Idaho Code 1-701 (1948-1998); Mont. Const., Art. VII, 1, 4, 6; Nev. Const., Art. 6, 5-6; Nev. Rev. Stat. 1.010 (1995); Wash. Const., Art. IV, 6 (West Supp. 2003); Wash. Rev. Code 3.30.015, 3.30.030, 3.34.010, 3.66.010 (1988 and West Supp. 2003).

9 Petitioners contend that the participation of an Article IV judge on the panel violated structural constitutional guarantees embodied in Article III and in the Appointments Clause, Art. II, 2, cl. 2, of the Constitu-

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