In 1890, the United States Congress passed legislation creating the Board of General Appraisers, a quasi-judicial administrative unit within the United States Department of the Treasury. The Board had nine members appointed by the President of the United States and empowered to review decisions of United States Customs officials concerning the amount of duties to be paid on importations.
In 1926, Congress responded to the increasing number and complexity of customs cases by replacing the Board of General Appraisers with the United States Customs Court, an independent Article I tribunal, retaining the jurisdiction and powers of the Board of General Appraisers. In 1928, the United States Customs Court became the first federal tribunal in the United States to have a woman judge, when President Calvin Coolidge nominated Genevieve R. Cline to the court. Although many members of the United States Senate objected to Cline's appointment, both because of her gender, and because they believed she was self-taught and had no judicial experience, her supporters advocated strongly for her, including Katherine Pike, president of the National Association of Women Lawyers and a number of club-women. Cline won U.S. Senate confirmation on May 25, 1928, received her commission on May 26, 1928, and took her oath of office in the Cleveland Federal Building on June 5, 1928.
On July 14, 1956, Congress made the United States Customs Court an Article III tribunal, again without changing its jurisdiction, powers, or procedures. After making some procedural changes in the Customs Courts Act of 1970, Congress addressed substantive issues concerning the court's jurisdiction and remedial powers in the Customs Courts Act of 1980, which broadened the power of the court and renamed it the United States Court of International Trade.