U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit News and Information Blog

U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


I love the Ninth Circuit. In 2014, there was not a more interesting or unpredictable docket on the planet. The Ninth Circuit dealt with many hot-button issues such as concealed carry, free speech on YouTube, and the Hobby Lobby fallout.

What did you find most interesting? Our 10 most popular posts covered all of the above topics, plus judicial gossip, nominations, and more:

In 2012, Los Angeles voters passed an initiative requiring adult film performers to wear condoms while filming. This, predictably, drew the ire of porn studios, producers, and stars, all of whom had adhered to a biweekly STD testing protocol to address concerns about the health risks of unprotected sex.

The artists' and studios' main argument was a creative one: a First Amendment free speech right to have condom-free sex on camera. This argument failed at the district court level and again yesterday, with the Ninth Circuit holding that any incidental effects on expression were outweighed by the evils the law was meant to address -- sexually transmitted disease transmission.

After he appeared suspicious at a border checkpoint in California, border patrol agents searched Chad Camou's car, in which they found Alejandro Martinez-Ramirez, an undocumented immigrant. But this case isn't even about Martinez-Ramirez.

Nope. It's about child pornography.

The border patrol agents took Camou's cell phone, then started rifling through it an hour and 20 minutes after his arrest. The agent was looking for evidence of smuggling, but found child pornography instead.

On December 8, the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the case Smith v. Obama, in which a nurse from Idaho, Anna Smith, challenged the NSA's warrantless collection of phone metadata as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Yes, there was talk about Smith v. Maryland. Yes, there was talk about the Fourth Amendment. Actually, though, we've seen this movie before. If you can even get to the merits, it's likely a violation and probably distinct from Smith v. Maryland, which was a short-term, targeted investigation. What's more important to this case is whether Anna Smith even has standing to bring the case.

The parties to the case didn't want en banc review. Other non-parties (California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Brady Campaign) wanted en banc but were denied leave to intervene, because they were non-parties who waited years to jump on board to the case when they could've been part of the case all along.

But not to worry, firearm fearers: En banc is still a strong possibility. Despite nobody with a stake in the case calling for it, at least one of the circuit's many judges called for en banc review sua sponte (H/T to The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Back in May, Arizona joined a host of other states in criminalizing "revenge porn," defined there as the distribution of a nude depiction of another adult without the other's consent. Arizona's law made it a class 5 felony, and a class 4 if the person was recognizable, meaning a sentence of six months to three years depending on the offense.

Such laws have been introduced, or enacted, in 28 states. Civil liberties groups, however, contend that, as written, they suffer from some serious constitutional defects. Right before Thanksgiving, the Arizona Attorney General, recognizing these problems, agreed to stay enforcement of Arizona's law pending further developments.

This is the weirdest application of the Americans with Disabilities Act I've ever seen. And with the Ninth Circuit's reputation, and the Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari earlier this week, it may not be long for this world.

It's been a heck of a ride with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski at the top of the Ninth Circuit, but with his seven-year term coming to a close, prepare for a different, more subdued, albeit equally able chief: Judge Sidney R. Thomas.

The ageist numbers game that comprise the rules of succession mean that Clinton-appointed Thomas will be the next in line, and because he is a young sixty-one years of age, he should hold the spot down for the next seven years. At the end of a chief judge's term, the position goes to the most senior judge under the age of sixty-five who has not previously served as chief. Terms end after seven years or when the chief reaches the age of seventy.

Sidney Thomas is that man, a Montana man since birth and through law school, the third such man to take the top spot in the nation's busiest circuit.

Montana today became the 34th state to permit same-sex marriage after a federal district judge found the state's prohibition on gay marriage unconstitutional.

For those keeping score at home, it's now one federal circuit and two district courts in favor of same sex marriage bans, as opposed to four circuits and over 30 district courts against.

Back in 2012, Californians decided to double down on punishment for registered sex offenders. Proposition 35 required sex offenders to provide law enforcement with a list of their "Internet identifiers," which could include email addresses, Facebook accounts, or even a user name on an obscure online forum. (Note that Prop. 35 was largely about increasing penalties for human trafficking; the part about sex offender Internet accounts was barely ever mentioned.) Failure to provide law enforcement with written notice of additions or changes to these identifiers, within 24 hours, would subject the offender to criminal penalties.

On the day the proposition took effect, several registered sex offenders sued to block the law's enforcement on First Amendment grounds and on the ground that it was void for vagueness. The district court enjoined enforcement and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.