June 29, 2002
9th Circuit often gets it wrong

This article in the New York Times is a discussion about the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the source of the Pledge of Allegiance ruling earlier this week.

The Ninth Circuit has a history of issuing rulings that are overturned by the Supreme Court. In 1996, for example, the 9th was overturned 24 times, 16 of which were UNANIMOUS, which is a startling statistic (Scalia and Stevens agreeing with each other is a sign that the apocalypse is upon us).

The article discusses the possible reasons for the high reversal rate. Ideology is a factor㬍 of the 23 judges were appointed by Democratic presidents, and it is by far the most liberal of the appeals courts. However, it is also the largest of the courts by far, and there have been proposals to divide it into two or more new circuits. Its unwieldy size means that often the various judges don't have the time to read the large number of cases decided by the circuit, which creates confusion and randomness.

(Although it is not mentioned in the article, part of the problem regarding dividing the court up involves Arizona. Arizona does not want to be in the same court as California, but the proposals that have surfaced so far lump Arizona and Nevada in with California, and a proposal that would have put Arizona in with the Pacific Northwest states is regarded as not feasible because of the geographical discontinuity.)

posted on June 29, 2002 07:49 PM


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