Map of the boundaries of the United States Courts of Appeals (by color) and United States District Courts. All District Courts lie within the boundary of a single jurisdiction usually in
(heavier lines); some states have more than one District Court (lighter lines denote those jurisdictions)
The United States district courts are the general
trial courts of the
United States federal court system. Both
criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of
admiralty. There is a
United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States district court. Each
federal judicial district has at least one
courthouse, and many districts have more than one. The formal name of a district court is "the United States District Court for" the name of the district—for example, the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
In contrast to the Supreme Court, which was established by
Article III of the Constitution, the district courts were established by Congress.
[note 1] There is no constitutional requirement that district courts exist at all. Indeed, after the ratification of the Constitution, some opponents of a strong federal judiciary urged that, outside jurisdictions under direct federal control like
Washington, D.C. and the
territories, the federal court system be limited to the Supreme Court, which would hear appeals from state courts. This view did not prevail, however, and the first Congress created the district court system that is still in place today.
There is at least one judicial district for each
District of Columbia, and
Puerto Rico. District courts in three
United States Virgin Islands,
Guam, and the
Northern Mariana Islands—exercise the same jurisdiction as
Article III U.S. district courts.
 Despite their name, these courts are technically not "District Courts of the United States". Judges on these
territorial courts do not enjoy the protections of
Article Three of the Constitution, and serve terms of ten years rather than for life.
There are 89 districts in the 50 states, with a total of 94 districts including territories.