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

9th Circuit October 2016 News

The Pacific bearded seal's future is on thin ice, literally and figuratively. The seals, known for their long, mustache-like whiskers, live and feed off the ice flows that cover the shallow waters off the coast of Alaska and the Arctic. Those flows are expected to decline dramatically, shrinking as climate change drives temperatures north. By 2095, loss of ice will leave the Okhotsk and Beringia bearded seal population segments endangered, according to estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

As a result of the threat posed by climate change, NFMS listed the seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a designation that comes with significant protections. And that listing, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Monday, was wholly allowable, rejecting a challenge that the listing was too speculative.

A Ninth Circuit panel recently upheld a new California law that requires licensed pregnancy clinics to inform women about publicly funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion services. The law was passed after the state legislature found that women often did not know about the public services available to them and that religious clinics misled them about their options.

The court rejected religious clinics' contention that the law violated their right to free speech and freedom of religion last week, ruling that the state's disclosure law did not violate the clinics' rights.