In Other Words
What is a rehearing en banc?
En banc is French for "in bench." In the context of federal courts of appeals, when all the judges of an appellate court hear an argument, they sit en banc. For example, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal cases arising from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, has 17 active judges when all judicial vacancies are filled. In most instances, a panel of three judges will decide a case before the court. However, a party may petition for a rehearing en banc (meaning all active judges will hear the case) if 1) the panel’s decision conflicts with a decision of the United States Supreme Court or of the court to which the petition is addressed and consideration by the full court is necessary to secure and maintain uniformity of the court's decisions; or 2) the proceeding involves one or more questions of exceptional importance, such as an issue on which the panel’s decision conflicts with the decisions of other United States Courts of Appeals that have addressed the issue.