United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 Reputation of the Ninth Circuit
- 8 Former judges
- 9 Media
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
- 12 References
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sometimes referred to simply as the Ninth Circuit, is one of the thirteen federal appellate courts. The court was established in 1891. It is by far the largest appellate court, with 29 posts. The court is headquartered at the James R. Browning Federal Courthouse in San Francisco, California, but meets at locations throughout the Ninth Circuit.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Article III judges
|Judge Alex Kozinski||Reagan||11/7/1985 - Present||2007-11/30/2014||UCLA, 1972||UCLA School of Law, 1975|
|Judge Andrew Hurwitz||06/12/2012-Present||Mary M. Schroeder||Princeton University, 1968||Yale Law School, 1972|
|Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw||Clinton||8/3/1998-Present||Clifford Wallace||UCLA, 1976||UCLA, 1979|
|Judge Mary Murguia||Obama||1/4/2011 - Present||Michael Hawkins||University of Kansas, 1982||University of Kansas Law School, 1985|
|Judge Morgan Christen||1/11/2012-Present||University of Washington, 1983||Golden Gate University School of Law, 1986|
|Judge Harry Pregerson||Carter||11/2/1979 - Present||New Seat|92 Stat. 1629||University of California 1947||California Boalt Hall School of Law 1950|
|Judge Stephen Reinhardt||Carter||09/11/1980 - Present||Pomona College, 1951||Yale Law School, 1954|
|Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain||Reagan||9/26/1986 - Present||Robert Boochever||St. John`s University 1957||Harvard Law School 1963|
|Chief judge Sidney Thomas||Clinton||1/4/1996-Present||12/1/2014-Present||Dorothy Wright Nelson||Montana State University 1975||University of Montana School of Law 1978|
|Judge Barry Silverman||Clinton||2/4/1998 - Present||William Canby, Jr.||Arizona State University 1973||Arizona State University College of Law 1976|
|Judge Susan Graber||Clinton||3/19/1998 - Present||Edward Leavy||Wellesley College 1969||Yale Law School 1972|
|Judge Margaret McKeown (California)||Clinton||4/8/1998 - Present||Joseph Jerome Farris||University of Wyoming 1972||Georgetown University Law Center 1975|
|Judge William Fletcher||10/9/1998-Present||William Albert Norris||Harvard University, 1968||Yale Law School, 1975|
|Judge Ronald Gould||Clinton||11/22/1999 - Present||Robert R. Beezer||University of Pennsylvania 1968||University of Michigan Law School 1973|
|Judge Richard Paez||3/14/2000-Present||Cecil F. Poole||Brigham Young University, 1969||University of California Berkeley Law 1972|
|Judge Marsha Berzon||3/16/2000-Present||John Noonan||Radcliffe College, 1966||University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, 1973|
|Judge Richard Tallman||Clinton||5/25/2000 - Present||Betty Binns Fletcher||University of Santa Clara 1975||Northwestern University School of Law 1978|
|Judge Johnnie Rawlinson||Clinton||07/26/2000 - Present||Melvin Brunetti||North Carolina A&T State University 1974||University of the Pacific 1979|
|Judge Richard Clifton||W. Bush||7/30/2002 - Present||Cynthia Holcomb Hall||Princeton University 1972||Yale Law School 1975|
|Judge Jay Bybee||W. Bush||03/21/2003 - Present||Procter Hug, Jr.||Brigham Young University, 1977||Brigham Young University, 1980|
|Judge Consuelo Maria Callahan||W. Bush||5/28/2003 - Present||Ferdinand Francis Fernandez||Stanford University 1972||University of the Pacific 1975|
|Judge Carlos Bea||W. Bush||10/1/2003 - Present||Charles Edward Wiggins||Stanford U. '56||Stanford Law '58|
|Judge Milan Smith||W. Bush||5/18/2006 - Present||Wallace Tashima||Brigham Young University 1966||University of Chicago Law School 1969|
|Judge Sandra Ikuta||W. Bush||6/23/2006 - Present||James R. Browning||University of California, Berkeley 1976||UCLA Law School 1988|
|Judge Randy Smith (Federal appeals judge)||W. Bush||3/19/2007 - Present||Thomas G. Nelson||Brigham Young University 1974||J. Reuben Clark School of Law 1977|
|Judge Jacqueline Nguyen||Obama||5/7/2012 - Present||New Seat|121 Stat. 2534||Occidental College, A.B., 1987||University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, J.D., 1991|
|Judge Paul Watford||Obama||5/21/2012 - Present||Pamela Ann Rymer||University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1989||University of California, Los Angeles Law, J.D., 1994|
|Judge John B. Owens||Obama||3/31/2014-Present||Stephen S. Trott||University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1993||Stanford Law, J.D., 1996|
|Judge Michelle T. Friedland||Obama||4/28/2014-Present||Raymond Fisher||Stanford U., B.A., 1995||Stanford U. Law, J.D., 2000|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|Senior Judge Mary Schroeder||Carter||9/26/1979 - 12/31/2011||2000-2007||12/31/2011-Present||Swarthmore College 1962||University of Chicago Law School 1965|
|Senior judge Andrew Kleinfeld||H.W. Bush||9/16/1991 - 6/12/2010||6/12/2010 - Present||Wesleyan University 1966||Harvard Law School 1969|
|Senior Judge Raymond Fisher||Clinton||10/12/1999 - 4/1/2013||4/1/2013 - Present||University of California, Santa Barbara '61||Stanford Law School '66|
|Senior Judge Alfred Goodwin||Nixon||11/30/1971 - 1/31/1991||1988-1991||1/31/1991 - Present||University of Oregon 1947||University of Oregon Law School 1951|
|Senior Judge John Clifford Wallace||Nixon||6/28/1972 - 4/8/1996||1991-1996||4/8/1996 - Present||San Diego State University 1952||University of California Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law 1955|
|Senior Judge Procter Hug||Carter||9/15/1977 - 1/1/2002||1996-2000||1/1/2002 - Present||University of Nevada, Reno 1953||Stanford Law School 1958|
|Senior Judge Joseph Farris||Carter||9/27/1979 - 3/4/1995||'3/4/1995 - Present||Morehouse College 1941||Atlanta University 1955|
|Senior Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson||Carter||12/20/1979-1/1/1995||1/1/1995-Present||University of California, Los Angeles 1950||University of California, Los Angeles Law 1953|
|Senior Judge William Canby||Carter||'5/23/1980 - 5/23/1996||5/23/1996 - Present||Yale University 1953||University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 1956|
|Senior Judge John Noonan||Reagan||12/17/1985-12/27/1996||12/27/1996-Present||Harvard College 1946||Catholic University of America 1949|
|Senior Judge Edward Leavy||Reagan||3/23/1987 - 5/19/1997||5/19/1997 - Present||University of Portland, 1950||Notre Dame Law School, 1953|
|Senior Judge Stephen Trott||Reagan||3/25/1988 - 12/31/2004||12/31/2004 - Present||Wesleyan University, 1962||Harvard Law School, 1965|
|Senior Judge Ferdinand Francis Fernandez||H.W. Bush||5/22/1989-6/1/2002||6/1/2002-Present||University of Southern California, 1958||University of Southern California Law School, 1962|
|Senior Judge Michael D. Hawkins||9/15/1994-2/12/2010||2/12/2010-Present||Arizona State University, 1967||Arizona State University College of Law, 1970|
|Senior Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima||Clinton||1/4/1996 - 6/30/2004||6/30/2004 - Present||University of California, Los Angeles 1958||Harvard Law School 1961|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
The Ninth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in one of its subsidiary districts. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law. Appeals of rulings by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals are petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Anthony Kennedy is the Circuit Justice for the Ninth Circuit.
It also has appellate jurisdiction over the following territorial courts:
- United States District Court for the District of Guam
- United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases||Terminations on merits:||Terminations on Procedure||Cross Appeals:||Total Terminations:||Written decisions per Judge**|
<tr><td colspan="11" style="text-align:left;">*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September.
**Time in months from filing to completion.
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts.
##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.</td></tr></table>
|• Voter-approved ballot measure banning high-capacity magazines is upheld by Ninth Circuit (2015)||Click for summary→|
|In 2000, the state of California banned the sale and manufacture of high-capacity gun magazines out of concern for public safety. The town of Sunnyvale, California, however, has now banned the possession of gun magazines that contain more than 10 bullets. The ban results from a voter-approved ballot measure. The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed suit against the town, requesting that a judge prevent its enforcement. The NRA argued that the law would impact a citizen’s ability to arm and protect him or herself, a right granted by the Second Amendment. In March 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte refused to issue an order preventing enforcement of the law. Citizens in Sunnyvale had until March 6, 2014, to turn over high-capacity magazines or remove them from the city limits.
An appeal of Judge Whyte’s decision went to the Ninth Circuit, and, on March 4, 2015, a three-judge panel consisting of Michael D. Hawkins, Johnnie B. Rawlinson and Barbara Lynn (sitting by designation) affirmed Judge Whyte’s ruling. The court, citing the United States Supreme Court case from 2008 ‘’District of Columbia v. Heller’’, said that while a citizen has a right to bear arms in self-protection, some limits to that right are permissible. The court then declared Sunnyvale’s law constitutional.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs said they intend to file an appeal, either to the U.S. Supreme Court or to the Ninth Circuit, seeking reconsideration.
|• Judge finds NCIS search illegal (2014)||Click for summary→|
|NCIS employee Steve Logan conducted online surveillance from his desk of computers in the state of Washington. In doing so, he was hoping to catch military members behaving badly. Instead he found a private citizen’s stash of child pornography and turned that information over to Seattle police. In turn, the police furthered the investigation and eventually arrested and charged Michael Dreyer with possession of child pornography. Dreyer was ultimately convicted based, at least partly, on the evidence NCIS uncovered and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Dreyer appealed, claiming his motion to suppress the NCIS evidence, as well as evidence gathered based on that search, should have been granted, rather than denied. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with Dreyer.
Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the majority. She stated that it is common knowledge that NCIS and other military groups conduct these types of searches regularly. She compared what Logan did here with other NCIS agents stopping drunk drivers and arresting them, only to turn them over to the local police for prosecution. The lone dissenter, Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, said that to apply the exclusionary rule in cases like this should be the last resort; societal costs must be considered before excluding evidence. He was particularly scathing when writing how the majority decision benefited Dreyer, who obviously possessed illegal child pornography in his home.
|• Ninth Circuit strikes certain Arizona campaign rules for judicial candidates (2014)||Click for summary→|
|The Arizona code of judicial conduct stated that judicial candidates, individuals who have not yet been elected but are seeking office, may not engage in certain activity related to campaigning. The precluded activity included raising funds for your own campaign or other candidates, endorsing candidates, campaigning for others or giving speeches on behalf of other candidates. Though a federal district court judge upheld these provisions, the Ninth Circuit, in an ‘’en banc’’ decision, held that they were unconstitutional.
Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Paez said that these types of provisions run afoul of the First Amendment. They prevent a candidate from speaking out, which is his right. He went on to provide a solution to Arizona and other states that wish to avoid a politicized judiciary: do not elect judges.
Judge Marsha Berzon concurred in the holding, but her concurrence emphasized that the majority holding applied only to judicial candidates, not incumbent judges running for re-election. Judge Richard Tallman dissented in part with the majority; he found that some of the code struck down was narrowly tailored, in particularly the two provisions on candidate campaigning.
|• Law firm wins rights to George Clinton songs (2014)||Click for summary→|
|The Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to require musician George Clinton to sign over the rights in several hit songs to a law firm. The law firm has a judgment against Clinton for unpaid legal fees. After Clinton failed to pay, the firm sought a court’s help in executing on the judgment and requested the copyright to four songs.
Clinton argued that his work was protected from involuntary transfer because the songs were exempt under Section 201(e) of the Copyright Act. That provision states that intellectual property cannot be unwillingly taken from an author if he or she has never transferred that property previously. The lower court found that the author of the songs was not, in fact, George Clinton; the author was actually Warner Bros. Clinton wrote and recorded the songs as part of a work-for-hire arrangement with the studio. He later sued and obtained the copyrights to the songs as an assignee, not an author. As a result, the lower court said the songs had been transferred previously by the author, Warner Bros., and were no longer protected by the provision in the Copyright Act.
Clinton appealed the lower court’s ruling, and a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Judge Morgan Christen wrote for the panel, stating that the rights in the songs were Clinton’s personal property, even if he was not the author, and were therefore eligible to be seized to satisfy a judgment.
| • Dismissal of jurors over sexual orientation is barred (2014)|
(GlaxoSmithKline v. Abbott Laboratories, 11-17357)
|Click for summary→|
|On January 21, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, comprised of Judges Reinhardt, Marsha Berzon and Senior Judge Mary Schroeder, ruled that peremptory strikes made by attorneys during jury selection may not be based on a juror's sexual orientation.
In the underlying suit, drug companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Abbott Laboratories (Abbott) were involved in an antitrust dispute over the pricing of HIV medication. The case was heard by the Ninth Circuit on appeal from a decision previously made by Chief Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California. At trial, an attorney for Abbott used a peremptory strike to bar a gay man's service on the jury, seemingly due only to his sexual orientation. GSK's attorney raised a Batson challenge, meaning opposing counsel needed to provide a nondiscriminatory reason for the requested juror strike. Before this case, Batson challenges had only applied to race and gender. Wilken allowed Abbott's strike to stand, and after a jury verdict was issued, GSK appealed, claiming that a new trial was warranted due to Abbott's unconstitutionally permitted peremptory strike based on sexual orientation.Writing for the majority of the three-judge panel, Reinhardt concluded that Batson was applicable, because "permitting a strike based on sexual orientation would send the false message that gays and lesbians could not be trusted to reason fairly on issues of great import to the community or the nation." He further commented that "[t]o allow peremptory strikes because of assumptions based on sexual orientation is to revoke this civic responsibility, demeaning the dignity of the individual and threatening the impartiality of the judicial system."
|• Bloggers have same protection as journalists from defamation suits (2014)||Click for summary→|
|Crystal Cox, author of the site obsidianfinancesucks.com, was sued by Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance, over statements she wrote on her website. Padrick and Obsidian claimed that the statements were defamatory in nature. The federal district court found for the plaintiffs on just one statement; the rest of Cox’s statements were dismissed as protected opinions. Cox contended she was a journalist, but the district court asked for proof before it would accept the argument. In the end, she could offer no proof, and Padrick and Obsidian were awarded $2.5 million in damages, which included punitive damages. Cox appealed the ruling.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled on January 17, 2014, in an opinion written by Judge Andrew Hurwitz, that bloggers have the same protection from defamation suits as journalists. That protection requires the plaintiffs to prove in court that the blogger used actual malice when posting the statements online. That phrase "actual malice" is defined in the landmark case New York Times v. Sullivan as knowingly or recklessly making false statements. In other words, the plaintiff has to prove that what the defendant said was untrue and knew it to be untrue when it was said. Further, the court held that the another benchmark defamation case applies to bloggers: Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. That case gives private individuals a right to sue for defamation, but they may only obtain actual damages, not punitive damages.
The Ninth Circuit found that Padrick, who was the subject of the one remaining statement made by Cox, was a private individual because the statements were made about his role as a bankruptcy trustee appointed by a court. Therefore, he was unable to receive punitive damages. As a result, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case back to federal court for retrial on Cox’s one statement.
Blurred Lines: 9th Circuit Applies Same First Amendment Protections to Bloggers as Traditional Media," January 24, 2014]
|• City and officer liable for tasing man (2013)||Click for summary→|
|Don Blondin heard a commotion outside his home and went to investigate. He found his neighbor, Jack, on the ground being shot with a taser gun by police officers. The officers were attempting to stop Jack from taking his own life, but Blondin did not know this. He asked the officers what they were doing and, in return, was told to back up. One officer, Sergeant Jeff Shelton, pointed his taser at Blondin and again told him to back up. Witnesses said Blondin appeared to be frozen in fear. When he did not move, Shelton warned Blondin he would be tased; before he finished the statement, however, Shelton fired the gun. Blondin was hit with the dart and incapacitated. Shelton warned Blondin’s wife, who had said nothing, that she was next. Blondin was then arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer. That case was dropped by the district attorney.
The Blondin’s sued the city of Snohomish and Shelton individually for unlawful arrest, the use of excessive force and a common law doctrine called outrage, wherein a spouse can recover damages for seeing her husband in extreme pain at the hands of someone else. The defendants were granted summary judgment by a federal district court Judge Robert Lasnik, including granting Shelton qualified immunity. Judge Lasnik’s ruling was appealed by the Blondins. A Ninth Circuit panel consisting of Judges Michael D. Hawkins, Jacqueline Nguyen and James Selna (sitting by designation), found that there was no evidence Blondin was resisting the officers or attempting to stop their actions; he was inquiring what they were doing to his neighbor. As a result, the city and Shelton were liable for tasing of Blondin that evening.
Judge Nguyen, however, dissented from the majority opinion, written by Judge Hawkins. Judge Nguyen felt that Blondin was interjecting himself into a police matter, and the officers were reacting to several issues at one time. She wrote that the majority did not consider the gravity of the situation at the time Blondin was tased and, as a result, discounts Shelton’s use of reasonable judgment in a situation with exigent circumstances.
| • Proposition 8 appeal (2011)|
Judge(s):Michael D. Hawkins, Stephen Reinhardt and Randy Smith (Perry v. Brown, Appeal No. 11-16577)
|Click for summary→|
|See also: California Proposition 8, the "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" Initiative (2008)
On February 7, 2012, a three-judge appellate panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Perry v. Brown, which upheld the rulings by District Court Judges Vaughn Walker and James Ware and overturned California's Proposition 8, which had blocked same sex marriage in the state. The panel, consisting of Judges Michael D. Hawkins, Stephen Reinhardt and Randy Smith, stated that “Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California." The court ruled that the same-sex marriage ban violated the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The ruling stated:
In effect, the court concluded that, because domestic partnerships had already established equal rights for same-sex couples, the measure only served to deny these relationships the designation of "marriage." This, according to the court, was not a legitimate purpose for treating these couples differently under the law. The panel rendered split in its decision with Judge Randy Smith concurring in part and dissenting in part. The panel upheld both the decisions of Chief Judge Ware, as well as Senior Judge Walker, whose original decision had been challenged on the grounds that Walker had an undisclosed long-term relationship with another man at the time of the case. For expansive coverage of the ballot measure and ensuing legal controversy, please see: California Proposition 8, the "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" Initiative (2008).In a separate ruling, the same panel refused to release the videos from the original trial. The panel held that Walker “promised the litigants that the conditions under which the recording was maintained would not change — that there was no possibility that the recording would be broadcast to the public in the future.” Because of this, the judges determined that, "The integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge’s word."
| • Medicinal marijuana in the U.S. (2005)|
Judge(s):Harry Pregerson, Arlen Beam, Richard A. Paez (Angel McClary Raich, et al., v. John Ashcroft, et al., cv-02-4872-MJJ)
|Click for summary→|
|Another hotly contested case considered by the Ninth Circuit arose from the enactment of a California law permitting the cultivation and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In Raich v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1222 (9th Cir. 2003), rev'd sub nom. Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005), a cancer patient sued the federal government, seeking to prevent it from seizing her supply of medical marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The United States argued that it had the right to enforce its drug laws against Raich notwithstanding the California statute. Raich argued that since the marijuana was grown within California, had never left the state's borders and was not part of any economic transaction, Congress had no constitutional authority to regulate her cultivation and use of marijuana.
In holding for Raich, the Ninth Circuit adhered to two landmark Supreme Court cases, United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000), which had substantially restricted Congress's authority to regulate “noneconomic” activity under the guise of the Commerce Clause in the United States Constitution. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court disagreed with this analysis, adhering instead to a 1942 case, Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), in which the Court held that cultivation of wheat for personal consumption could be subject to a federal production quota even though the crop never entered the stream of commerce.Interestingly, the three dissenters--voting to uphold the Ninth Circuit--were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, considered to be two of the most conservative members of the Court, as well as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, considered to be the swing vote on the Court at the time. The Raich litigation illustrated that, although the result of the Ninth Circuit's decision pleased political liberals opposed to tough federal drug laws, the legal analysis employed by the court was faithful to the principles of federalism and thus “conservative” from a legal perspective.
| • Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools (2002)|
Judge(s):Alfred Goodwin, Stephen Reinhardt, Ferdinand Fernandez (Michael A. Newdow v. U.S. Congress, et al., cv-00-00495-MLS/PAN)
|Click for summary→|
|Critics of the Ninth Circuit often point to 2002's Newdow v. U.S. Congress decision as evidence of political bias and judicial activism. In the decision, the court declared that a public school district's practice of leading students in recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion and an unlawful interference with Newdow's right to educate his daughter in accordance with his own religious beliefs. The court held that the violations of the Establishment Clause and other constitutional rights they found were based on the pledge's inclusion of the words "under God". The case was brought by Michael Newdow, an atheist who felt that the daily recitation of the pledge in his daughter's school violated her First Amendment right to be free from government establishment of religion. In a 2-1 decision, a Ninth Circuit panel held for Newdow, stating that “[t]he text of the official pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God.” The majority opinion was written by Alfred Goodwin, who was appointed to the court by Richard M. Nixon, a Republican.
In 2004, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's decision. However, the majority opinion did not reach the substantive issue of whether the pledge violated the Establishment Clause, instead holding that Newdow, who did not have primary custody of his daughter (the child's mother, whom Newdow never married, had custody), did not have standing to litigate the claim in federal court. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the majority's opinion of Newdow's standing, but concurred in the judgment, making this a unanimous decision reversing the Ninth Circuit. Thomas wrote that the Ninth Circuit's opinion was “a persuasive reading of (Supreme Court) precedent,” but then attacked the precedent, particularly Lee v. Weisman. Rehnquist and O'Connor disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of the precedent.Indeed, while the Ninth Circuit had long been instrumental in striking new legal ground, particularly in the areas of immigration law and prisoner rights, it was the Newdow decision that galvanized criticism against what conservatives saw as “judicial activism.” Reaction to the decision by prominent political leaders, especially those in the House and Senate, was passionate. President George W. Bush, through his spokesman Ari Fleischer, called the ruling “ridiculous,” while Senator Charles Grassley called it “crazy and outrageous.” Even mainstream Democrats attacked the decision, with House minority leader Richard Gephardt calling it “poorly thought out.” Criticisms of the Newdow decision were not limited to the substantive law considered by the judges who heard the case; they also attacked the legitimacy and political independence of the court itself. The result was a renewed focus on the Ninth Circuit's caseload and a targeted effort by congressional Republicans to minimize the impact of such decisions.
The Ninth Circuit was created by the Evarts Act of 1891, which established nine circuit courts of appeal.
The large size of the current court is due to the fact that both the population of the western states and the geographic jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit have increased dramatically since Congress created the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1891. The court was originally granted appellate jurisdiction over federal district courts in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. As new states and territories were added to the federal judicial hierarchy in the twentieth century, many of those in the West came under control of the Ninth Circuit: the newly acquired territory of Hawaii in 1900, Arizona upon its accession to statehood in 1912, the then-territory of Alaska in 1948, Guam in 1951, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in 1977.
|Year||Jurisdiction||Total population||Pop. as % of nat'l pop.||Number of active judgeships|
|1891||CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||2,087,000||3.3%||2|
|1900||CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||2,798,000||3.7%||3|
|1920||AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||7,415,000||6.7%||3|
|1940||AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||11,881,000||9.0%||7|
|1960||AK, AZ, CA, GU, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||22,607,000||12.6%||9|
|1980||AK, AZ, CA, GU, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||37,170,000||16.4%||23|
|2000||AK, AZ, CA, GU, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA||54,575,000||19.3%||28|
Reputation of the Ninth Circuit
The Ninth Circuit is generally considered the most liberal in the nation. This reputation most likely dates back to the late 1970s, when President Jimmy Carter appointed about three-quarters of the court's judges. That notion was reinforced during the Supreme Court session in 2011, when the high court reversed or invalidated 19 out of 26 decisions reviewed from the circuit.
Some legal scholars, however, call that assessment of the court misguided. In 2010, the Dean of the UC Irvine Law School said, "The reality is a court that is very ideologically diverse."
Proposals to split the Ninth Circuit
Several proposals have been introduced to split the Ninth Circuit into two separate circuits, the Ninth and a newly created Twelfth Circuit Court of Appeals. An analysis from the Alaska Bar Association (in 2003) mentions bills introduced in the House or Senate in 1972, 1983, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2001.
The main argument for dividing the circuit has to do with its sheer size; the Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over about 20% of the population of the United States. The political ideology of citizens of the states in the circuit has also frequently been mentioned as a reason for a split. Historically, proposals to divide the circuit have come from legislators from the states in the Pacific Northwest, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
The following are the most prominent of the former proposals that have been considered by congressional leaders, legislative commissions, and interest groups.
Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals, Final Report, Dec. 18, 1998:
- The Commission found that splitting the Ninth Circuit would be “impractical and … unnecessary.” However, it recommended that the circuit be divided into three “adjudicative divisions,” each of which would hear appeals from specific regions. A fourth at-large “circuit division” would be invoked solely to resolve conflicts of law arising within a particular division. This proposal would have also abolished circuit-wide en banc or limited en banc circuit panels, instead creating en banc panels from each of the three regions as necessary.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of Reorganization Act of 2003, S. 562:
- This proposal would split the Ninth Circuit into two, with California and Nevada being retained by the new Ninth Circuit and the remaining Ninth Circuit jurisdictions being assigned to a new Twelfth Circuit. The bill would have created ten new judgeships, with 25 being retained by the Ninth Circuit and 13 being assigned to the Twelfth Circuit. Each current Ninth Circuit judge would have been assigned to a new circuit based on the location of his or her duty station. This proposal was co-sponsored by seven Republican Senators from Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Oregon. After a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts on April 7, 2004, no vote was held.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2003, H.R. 2723:
- This proposal would have split the Ninth Circuit into two, with Arizona, California, and Nevada being retained by the new Ninth Circuit and the remaining Ninth Circuit jurisdictions being assigned to a new Twelfth Circuit. The bill would have created five permanent and two temporary judgeships, all to be retained by the new Ninth Circuit. The temporary judgeships would terminate upon the existence of a vacancy 10 years or more after passage of the act. Each Ninth Circuit judge would be assigned to a new circuit based on the location of his or her duty station. This proposal was co-sponsored by Republican congressmen from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. After a hearing by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property on October 21, 2003, no vote was held. This bill was reintroduced in the 109th Congress as H.R. 212, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2005.
Ninth Circuit Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2004, S. 878:
- This proposal would have created two new circuits, the Twelfth and Thirteenth. The Ninth Circuit would retain California, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Twelfth Circuit would contain Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana. The Thirteenth Circuit would contain Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. The Act would have provided that existing judges be assigned to new circuits based on the location of their duty stations, after which the number of active judgeships in the new Ninth Circuit would be increased to 19. This bill was reintroduced in the 109th Congress as the Ninth Circuit Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2005, H.R. 211, and was co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the same Republican Congressmen who had sponsored the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2003.
The Circuit Court of Appeals Restructuring and Modernization Act of 2005, S. 1845
- This proposal would have split the Ninth Circuit into two, with California, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands being retained by the Ninth Circuit, and the remaining Ninth Circuit jurisdictions being assigned to a new Twelfth Circuit. It would have created five permanent and two temporary judgeships, all to be retained by the new Ninth Circuit. The temporary judgeships would have terminated upon the existence of a vacancy 10 years or more after passage of the act. Each Ninth Circuit judge would be assigned to a new circuit based on the location of his or her duty station. The proposal was co-sponsored by nine Republican senators from Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Oregon, including the same group of senators that had sponsored S. 562 in the previous Congress. It was before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, hearings were held on it, but it was not enacted.
For a transcript of the PBS Newshour's "Debate Brews over Splitting 9th Circuit Court" from January 17, 2005, visit this link.
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on the judges of the Ninth Circuit, see former federal judges of the Ninth Circuit.
The court's regular meeting places are located in: Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Pasadena, California. However, panels of the court occasionally travel to hear cases in other locations within its territorial jurisdiction. Although the judges travel around the circuit, the court arranges its hearings so that cases from the northern region of the circuit are heard in Seattle or Portland, cases from southern California are heard in Pasadena, and cases from northern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii are heard in San Francisco.
The Ninth Circuit is located in the James R. Browning Federal Courthouse in San Francisco, California. The courthouse was built at the turn of the century and was originally home to the court and the post office. Completed in 1905, the building was designed by the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, James Knox Taylor. The building was damaged in the earthquake of 1906, but was one of only two buildings left standing in that neighborhood of San Francisco and became a symbol of the rebuilding and restoration effort. Repairs were completed in 1910, and the building reopened. It was again damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck San Francisco. This earthquake gave birth to a rebuilding and restoration effort complete with seismic retrofitting and the addition of 45,000 square feet of space costing a total of $91,000,000. The building formally reopened on October 17, 1996. Prior to this, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
In December 2013, the Ninth Circuit announced that it would become the first federal appeals court in the nation to allow live video footage of its proceedings in major cases to be streamed online via its website. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski noted that this step forward would not only make the court "more accessible and transparent," but it would also serve as a way to "open the court's doors even wider so that more people can see and hear what transpires in the courtroom." While the vast majority of the Ninth Circuit's cases are heard by three-judge panels, the new streaming video policy applies only to cases that are heard en banc, meaning that 11 members of the court -- ten randomly selected judges as well as the chief judge -- preside over the hearing. Live video streaming began on December 9, 2013.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit This website includes links to the court's published and unpublished opinions, and court rules and procedure.
- Judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Recent opinions from FindLaw
- Rulings of the 9th Circuit relevant to ballot initiatives
- Ninth Circuit blog
- The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society
- Courthouse News Service, "Warrantless wiretap suit nixed by 9th Circuit," June 14, 2013
- The Wall Street Journal, “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: To Split Or Not To Split?” March 23, 2006
- New York Times, "Sexual Orientation Is No Basis for Jury Exclusion, a Federal Appeals Court Rules," January 21, 2014
- SF Weekly, "Ninth Circuit Orders New HIV Drug Pricing Trial After Gay Juror Ousted," January 21, 2014
- Los Angeles Times "Appeals court asked to decide if gay judge could be fair on Prop. 8 case," December 8, 2011
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Perry v. Brown, February 7, 2012
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- LA Times Blog, "Prop. 8: Gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, court rules," February 7, 2012
- Dallas Voice, "Court won’t release videos from Prop 8 trial," February 3, 2012
- ProCon.org, "Raich, v. Ashcroft - U.S. Supreme Court Timeline Ashcroft, et al. v. Raich, et al.," accessed February 17, 2015
- The Washington Post, "Justices Keep 'Under God' in Pledge," June 15, 2004
- USA Today, "Custody case colors Pledge battle," March 15, 2004
- CNN, "Lawmakers blast Pledge ruling," June 27, 2002
- Kleinfeld, Andrew J. (1998-05-22). Memo to the Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals. URL accessed on June 21, 2005
- History of the Ninth Circuit from the Federal Judicial Center
- The Washington Post, "Supreme Court reversals deliver a dressing-down to the liberal 9th Circuit," January 31, 2011
- The Los Angeles Times, "U.S. Supreme Court again rejects most decisions by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," July 18, 2011
- The New York Times, "'Liberal' Reputation Precedes Ninth Circuit Court," April 24, 2010
- Alaska Bar Association, "Breaking up is hard to do," June 2003
- University of North Texas Library, "Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals, Final Report," December 18, 1998
- Congress.gov, "S.562 - Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act of 2003," 2003-2004
- Congress.gov, "H.R.2723 - Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act of 2003," 2003-2004
- Congress.gov, "S.878 - To create additional Federal court judgeships," 2003-2004
- Testimony of Circuit Judge Richard Tallman, "U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, United States Senate: Committee on the Judiciary, retrieved on November 19, 2007"
- GovTrack, "S. 1845 (109th): Circuit Court of Appeals Restructuring and Modernization Act of 2005"
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
- United States General Services Administration, James R. Browning Official Page
- Los Angeles Times, "9th Circuit to allow live video of hearings in major cases," December 2, 2013
Chief Judge: Sidney Thomas • Alex Kozinski • Andrew Hurwitz • Kim McLane Wardlaw • Mary Murguia • Morgan Christen • Harry Pregerson • Stephen Reinhardt • Diarmuid O'Scannlain • Barry Silverman • Susan Graber • Margaret McKeown (California) • William Fletcher • Ronald Gould • Richard Paez • Marsha Berzon • Richard Tallman • Johnnie Rawlinson • Richard Clifton • Jay Bybee • Consuelo Maria Callahan • Carlos Bea • Milan Smith • Sandra Ikuta • Randy Smith (Federal appeals judge) • Jacqueline Nguyen • Paul Watford • John B. Owens • Michelle T. Friedland
Mary Schroeder • Andrew Kleinfeld • Raymond Fisher • Alfred Goodwin • John Clifford Wallace • Procter Hug • Joseph Farris • Dorothy Wright Nelson • William Canby • John Noonan • Edward Leavy • Stephen Trott • Ferdinand Francis Fernandez • Michael D. Hawkins • Atsushi Wallace Tashima •
|Former judges||Anthony Kennedy • Lorenzo Sawyer • Joseph McKenna (Supreme Court) • William Ball Gilbert • Erskine Mayo Ross • William Henry Hunt • Wallace McCamant • Frank Sigel Dietrich • William Henry Sawtelle • Francis Arthur Garrecht • William Denman • Clifton Mathews • Bert Emory Haney • William Healy • Homer Bone • William Edwin Orr • Walter Pope • Dal Lemmon • Richard Harvey Chambers • Stanley Nelson Barnes • Oliver Hamlin • Gilbert Jertberg • Charles Merton Merrill • Montgomery Koelsch • Benjamin Duniway • Walter Raleigh Ely, Jr. • James Marshall Carter • Shirley Hufstedler • Eugene Allen Wright • John Francis Kilkenny • Ozell Trask • Herbert Choy • J. Blaine Anderson • Thomas Tang • Cecil Poole • William Albert Norris • Charles Edward Wiggins • Frederick Hamley • Matthew Hall McAllister • William Morrow • Frank Rudkin • Pamela Rymer • James R. Browning • Joseph Sneed • Betty Binns Fletcher • Otto Skopil • Arthur Alarcon • Warren Ferguson • Robert Boochever • Cynthia Holcomb Hall • Robert Beezer • Melvin Brunetti • David R. Thompson • Thomas G. Nelson • Curtis Dwight Wilbur • Albert Lee Stephens, Sr. • Albert Lee Stephens, Jr. • William Orr • John Kilkenny •|
|Former Chief judges|