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


Arizona and harsh immigration laws go together like peaches and cream, Laverne and Shirley, Joe Arpaio and civil rights claims. Arizona's Proposition 100, approved by voters in 2006, denies bail to undocumented immigrants for a variety of felonies, whether or not the defendant is dangerous or a flight risk. As in: no discretion, never, nuh-uh, nada. No bail for you.

Angel Lopez-Valenzuela and Isaac Castro-Armenta sued, calling the law unconstitutional. An Arizona district court found for Arizona, and a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed. Yesterday, however, after an en banc rehearing, the court reversed the district court's decision.

Medicaid enforcement. ERISA plans with fiduciary duties. And inflated natural gas prices. What do these three things have in common? None of them would pique the interest of the average American.

But immigration issues due to alleged ties to terrorism? Being locked out of a country where your U.S. citizen wife lives? That's compelling. That's something that will make the headlines when decided.

But first, let's look at the cases only the lawyers could love:

Now, this is a unique way to request en banc review.

The Coalition to Protect Marriage, a conservative group opposing same-sex (or genderless) marriage, which stood in for Nevada to defend that state's ban when the state refused to do so, really wants an en banc shot. And on the surface, that seems like a long-shot: CPM isn't even really a party to the case, the panel opinion (lengthy concurrences aside) followed directly from recent precedent, and the Ninth Circuit has denied en banc review in those precedential cases.

In other words: solid decision. But, according to a statistical study presented by CPM, that solid decision might rest on a number of other solid decisions that aren't solid at all: They were the result of a stacked deck by gaming panel assignments.

FindLaw's "SCOTUS Week" is coming to a close -- but wait, what's that? Overtime? Extra innings?

Exactly, and you have the Ninth Circuit to thank for the bonus coverage. Why? Because the Ninth Circuit has nine cases on the Supreme Court's docket so far -- one of which, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, has already been argued and blogged about on our In House blog.

What about the other eight? Here's Part 1 of our Ninth Circuit SCOTUS preview:

Earlier this week, we mentioned In re National Security Letter was on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. In the context of Twitter's lawsuit against the DOJ, National Security Letter was Twitter's best chance for success, with Judge Susan Illston having agreed that NSLs are unconstitutional.

As it happens, a Ninth Circuit panel heard oral arguments in National Security Letter two days ago. How it went could be a gauge of Twitter's success in its suit against the DOJ.

It's here folks, and it's exactly as expected: In a joint opinion for Latter v. Otter (from Idaho) and Sevcik v. Sandoval (from Nevada), the Ninth Circuit has struck down Idaho and Nevada's gay marriage bans, citing its own precedent from the SmithKline gay juror case:

We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline.

Now that we've spoiled the non-surprise, let's get to the meaty preliminary issues of jurisdiction and the effect of a decades-old Supreme Court order which, really, were the only true undecided issues left in this case.

Given that the Ninth Circuit is a perennial contender for most frequently reversed, it was not a huge surprise to see the Supreme Court toss one of their decisions in the shredder. It was a bit surprising, however, to see it happen so quickly -- before oral arguments began, and on the same day the Court released an orders list clearing much of its summer cert. petition backlog.

Why did the Supreme Court give the Ninth Circuit the quick and swift rejection, like a gowned and gaveled Dikembe Mutombo? It's the much-maligned Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), and more specifically, the Ninth Circuit's completely botched application of its review standard.

NVIDIA Corporation makes a bunch of computer chips, including graphics processing units (GPUs) for all your sweet gaming machines. In 2006, NVIDIA began experiencing problems with some of its chips. NVIDIA initially wasn't sure what the problem was, and issued software updates to run the fans of its graphics cards faster to cool down the cards. But that didn't work.

Finally, HP concluded that the problem was the chips themselves. NVIDIA determined that the problem lay in the composition of a new kind of solder used on its chips. In 2008, NVIDIA told its manufacturers to go back to the old solder.

Arizona elects its judges in counties with fewer than 250,000 people (everywhere but Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties). It also has a Code of Judicial Conduct that restricts how both incumbent and prospective judges campaign for office.

What's prohibited? Try everything, as long as its campaign-related. More specifically, that'd be: giving speeches on behalf of others, endorsing others, soliciting money for others, campaigning for others, and a ban on solicitation of funds for your own campaign. Have no friends, or opinions, and pay out of pocket, essentially.

Randolph Wolfson, a 2008 candidate who lost, challenged these rules and lost in federal district court. However, the Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion, held that all five prohibitions were unconstitutional as applied to non-judge candidates. On Friday, the full Ninth Circuit granted an en banc rehearing of the case.

In 2010, German gambler Konstantin Zoggolis had taken out credit from the Wynn casino in Las Vegas to the tune of about $1.3 million. Wynn said it was time to pay up; Zoggolis couldn't pay. I know you're thinking: "Why would Zoggolis sue Wynn? These were his debts! Of course he should have to pay them!" But there's more going on here.

The Nevada Gaming Commission allows a gambling patron to "self limit his access to the issuance of credit." Basically, a compulsive gambler can tell the casino, "No matter how much I ask, don't lend me any more money." Wynn and Zoggolis had an agreement that Wynn couldn't loan him any more than $250,000, but in spite of this agreement, the casino loaned him $1.05 million more in September and October 2010.