The National Courts Section’s mission is to protect taxpayer dollars in lawsuits brought against the U.S. Government. Its practice areas include government contracts, constitutional claims, government pay and personnel suits, veterans’ and other benefits appeals, and international trade and tariff matters.
National Courts is one of the largest, oldest, and most active litigating sections in the Department of Justice (DOJ). It is one of five sections of the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch. This section is named National Courts because it handles matters in three federal courts of nation-wide jurisdiction: the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the United States Court of International Trade. The National Courts Section also handles occasional matters in other federal district and circuit courts, as well as in administrative tribunals.
The National Courts Section handles a variety of affirmative and defensive appeals filed primarily in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC. Created in 1982, the Federal Circuit is, among other things, the U.S. Constitution’s Article III successor to the appellate division of the former United States Court of Claims, and to the former United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. While a portion of the Circuit’s docket concerns patent disputes between private parties, the majority of its appeals arise from tribunals that decide matters related to litigation with the Federal Government, such as the United States Court of Federal Claims and the Merit Systems Protection Board. National Courts attorneys handle most of these appeals, arguing numerous cases each month before the Circuit.
National Courts also assigns specialists for matters in the federal courts of appeals for regional circuits, when such cases fall within its subject matter expertise. When National Courts appellate cases lead to further proceedings in the United States Supreme Court, the Federal Government is represented by the Office of the Solicitor General with input and assistance by the National Courts Section, as appropriate.
Attorneys in the National Courts Section also have active trial practices in both the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of International Trade. Because the courts exercise jurisdiction nationwide, attorneys often travel outside of Washington, DC for trials and other matters. Occasionally, National Courts attorneys handle matters in other tribunals, such as federal agencies’ boards of contract appeals.