Few chapters in American judicial history have a past as colorful as that of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose jurisdiction encompasses California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska. In the first fifty years after its creation in 1891, this court handled a wide range of cases involving railroads, the Alaska gold rush, disputes over natural resources, and the evolution of the labor movement. David Frederick culled archival sources, including court records and lawyers' and judges' papers, in Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Francisco, Portland, Eugene, and Washington, D.C., and here explores how the court and its judges embodied the same pioneering impulse as other newcomers to the West. In 1895, for example, the Ninth Circuit adjudicated United States v. Stanford, a case of enormous ramifications that determined the liability of railroad robber barons for their unpaid loans obtained to build the transcontinental railroad. The court ruled in favor of Mrs. Jane Stanford, widow of a railroad magnate, thereby saving her fledgling college, Stanford University. Reflecting the prevailing anti-Chinese sentiment, the first Ninth Circuit judges stringently implemented Chinese exclusion laws, which severely restricted Asian immigration during the late nineteenth-century. And in one celebrated Alaska gold rush case, the court in 1900 thwarted an attempt to steal vast sums of gold by judicial process in Nome, Alaska. The court became an important institution in Western development, ruling on questions of natural resource extraction, matters relating to World War I and Prohibition, and issues arising under F.D.R.'s New Deal programs. The institutional evolution of the court also signaled significant changes in the roles of federal judges as the process of federalizing the law gained momentum in the immediate pre-New Deal era. Many of these developments led to heated arguments among the judges over institutional reforms. Rugged Justice vividly portrays and important and somewhat picaresque chapter of American judicial history and will appeal to anyone interested in American studies, Western history, and the courts.