U.S. Supreme Court Justices presided over all federal appeals in the early years of our country. However, following the Civil War, the authority of the federal courts grew and the caseload of the Supreme Court expanded to an unmanageable level.
In early 1891, Congress passed what has become known as the Evarts Act, named after the sponsor of the legislation, Sen. William M. Evarts of New York. The legislation (FJC.gov) established the U.S. Courts of Appeals to ease the burden on the Supreme Court. The legislation took effect June 16, 1891, and as a result, courts of appeals were created in each of the nine circuits (FJC.gov).