Stephen Reinhardt

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Stephen Reinhardt
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Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Title:   Judge
Station:   Los Angeles, CA
Appointed by:   Jimmy Carter
Active:   09/11/1980 - Present
Past post:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1957 - 1980
Personal History
Born:   1931
Hometown:   New York, NY
Undergraduate:   Pomona College, 1951
Law School:   Yale Law School, 1954

Stephen Roy Reinhardt is a federal appeals judge with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. He joined the court in 1980 after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter.[1]


Born in New York City, New York, Reinhardt graduated from Pomona College with his B.A. in 1951, and later received an LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1954.[1]

Professional career

Reinhardt served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1956. He then became a law clerk for the Honorable Luther Youngdahl of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where he worked until 1957. Reinhardt was a private practice attorney in the State of California from 1957 to 1980.[1]

Judicial career

Reinhardt was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Jimmy Carter on November 30, 1979, to a new seat created by 92 Stat. 1629, which was approved by Congress. Reinhardt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 11, 1980, and received commission on September 11, 1980.[1]

Notable cases

Judgment in sobriety case overturned by Ninth Circuit (2014)

In April 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, comprised of Judges Reinhardt, John Noonan and Andrew Hurwitz, reversed a finding in a criminal drunk driving case made by Judge Anthony Ishii of the Eastern District of California. Writing for the majority, Judge Noonan ruled that the defendant driver’s rights were violated when park rangers told him the wrong information concerning the consequences of refusing a field sobriety test.


Dismissal of jurors over sexual orientation is barred (2014)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (GlaxoSmithKline v. Abbott Laboratories, 11-17357)

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."[2][3]

Shark fin ban case (2013)

     Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (CHINATOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION v. BROWN, 13-15188)

Judge Reinhardt was a member of a three-judge panel that ruled a ban on shark fins was not racially driven. Along with Judge Andrew Hurwitz and Judge John Noonan, Judge Reinhardt heard a case where Chinese-Americans were attempting to have an injunction issued on a California law that banned the practice of shark finning. The process which involved catching sharks, removing the fins, and returning the dead shark back to the water was banned in 2012. The Chinatown Neighborhood Association asked for the injunction on the grounds that the law, which took effect in 2012, was racist, since shark fin soup is a common dish and tradition in the Chinese-American community. Judge Phyllis Hamilton, a district judge, ruled that the legislators who drafted the law had no intention of discriminating against the Chinese-Americans and denied an injunction. The Chinatown Neighborhood Association then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the three-panel judge affirmed the lower court's ruling, stating
The District Court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Chinatown failed to prove a likelihood of irreparable harm... Chinatown offered only evidence suggesting that business owners would suffer some economic harm from operation of the Shark Fin Law.[4][5]

Proposition 8 appeal (2011-2012)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Kristin M. Perry, et al. v. Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California, 11-16577 & 1016696)

On December 8, 2011, the court heard arguments from Proposition 8 supporters asking Northern District Chief Judge James Ware to vacate former Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on the proposition's constitutionality. Proposition supporters argued that Judge Walker was biased against them at trial because he was involved in a same-sex relationship at the time. The panel hearing the appeal consisted of Judges Michael D. Hawkins, Stephen Reinhardt and Randy Smith.[6]

For the full story, see Proposition 8 supporters ask appeals court to overturn ruling.


On February 7, 2012, a three-judge appellate panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 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 blocked same sex marriage in California. The panel, consisting of Judges Reinhardt, Michael D. Hawkins, 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 states:

Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted... Under California statutory law, same-sex couples had all the rights of opposite-sex couples, regardless of their marital status...[7][5]

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 was challenged on the grounds that Walker had an undisclosed long-term relationship with another man at the time of the case.[8] 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. The record compels the finding that the trial judge’s representations to the parties were solemn commitments,” and that the videos should not be released.[9]

Federal healthcare benefits for spouse of gay public defender (2009)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (In Re: Brad Levenson, 09-80172)

Judge Reinhardt, on November 18, 2009, ruled in favor of the federal government in regards to a gay couple having their spousal healthcare benefits denied. Brad Levenson and Tony Sears were married during the period gay marriage was legal in California during 2008, and sought benefits while one partner was working as a public defender for the federal government.[10]

Medi-Cal case: CA illegally attempts to cut doctors' fees (2009)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Independent Living Center of Southern California, Inc., et al., v. David Maxwell-Jolly, Director of the Dept. of Health Care Services, State of California, 2:08-cv-03315-CAS-MAS)

Judge Reinhardt was on a three-judge panel which wrote the opinion in a lawsuit involving the withholding of retroactive reimbursement payments to providers of Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.[11] Judge Reinhardt, along with Judges William Fletcher and Milan Smith--who wrote the opinion--ruled unanimously to uphold an injunction against cuts in the reimbursement payments to providers. The judges ruled that California's budget crisis did not justify the 10% reduction in payments to providers.[11]

The court's ruling held that California cannot withhold $1.1 billion a year in payments to doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers. The lawsuit came in response to a bill passed by the California Legislature in 2008 which reduced compensation to providers of Medi-Cal by 10%, or about $1.1 billion.[11] The state faced a major budget crisis that forced many state programs like Medi-Cal to make deep budget cuts.[11]

The judges opined that driving away providers from the already-shrinking group, while allowing the system to keep taking state-funded patients, endangered their ability to get treatment.[11]

The underlying suit was brought in 2008 when healthcare providers, who care for seven million Californians on Medi-Cal, sued the Department of Health Care Services after the law took effect on July 1, 2008.[11]

Central District of California Judge Christina Snyder ruled against the fee reductions on August 18, 2008, but also ruled that the California Constitution shielded the state from having to make retroactive payments for the period spanning the effective date of the cuts.[12]

As a result of the Ninth Circuit's ruling, the State of California had to pay providers $55.8 million in retroactive reimbursements that were withheld weeks before Judge Snyder granted the original injunction. An official for the California Department of Finance told the Los Angeles Times that the ruling would not affect the $26.3-billion state budget deficit because the state hadn't counted on the 10% savings from the Medi-Cal reimbursement changes.[11]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
NA-new seat
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by: