9th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Marijuana will remain on the federal list of Schedule I drugs, next to heroin and LSD. After a five day evidentiary trial, the District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion to dismiss an indictment involving marijuana growing, which challenged the classification was unconstitutional.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, Schedule I drugs are those which have a high potential of abuse and "no currently accepted medical use." Defense lawyers for 16 men accused of growing marijuana challenged the listing of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, arguing that it violated the Tenth Amendment's limitations on federal power. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 23 states.

Corporations and other non-human associations don't have a First Amendment right to serve as official proponents of ballot initiatives, the Ninth Circuit held in a unanimous en banc ruling last Friday. The case involved a local law in Chula Vista, a San Diego suburb, which required that proponents of ballot measures be electors -- in other words, actual humans.

With corporate personhood extending at least to encompass political speech, via political spending, commentators wondered if that personhood could stretch to actual legislative power. The Ninth wasn't willing to take things that far.

The case continues the process of clarifying the political rights afforded corporations following the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United.

The Supreme Court won't be hearing an appeal from high school students who sued after school administrators asked them to remove American flag T-shirts or take excused leave. That leaves intact the Ninth Circuit's ruling from a year ago, holding that the school did not violate the students' rights when it asked them to change their clothing in an attempt to avoid violence.

Plaintiffs, three students from Morgan Hill in northern California, had argued that their First Amendment free speech rights were violated when they were asked to cover up their flags on Cinco de Mayo while students in Mexican flags were not.

Eddie Bauer, the struggling outdoor retailer, got some more bad news last Friday, when the Ninth Circuit ruled that a consumer's ADA lawsuit against the company had been wrongly dismissed. Chris Kohler, a disabled man who relies upon a wheelchair for mobility, had sued Eddie Bauer for violations of the ADA.

The district court had concluded that Kohler needed expert opinions to determine whether conditions constituted ADA barriers. That's wrong, the Ninth Circuit ruled, emphasizing that non-expert estimations are perfectly acceptable in ADA suits.

Seattle's prohibition of bus-side advertisements criticizing funding of the Israeli military doesn't violate the advertisers' free speech, the Ninth Circuit ruled last Wednesday. The ads, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, had originally been accepted by the bus authority, but were rejected after public controversy. The ads were to read "Israeli War Crimes -- Your Tax Dollars at Work."

The Ninth Circuit's finding that the bus program was a limited public forum breaks from rulings in other courts. The Sixth, Third, Second, Seventh and D.C. Circuits have all found similar transit advertising programs to be designated public forums, with significantly strong free speech rights.

A California state law prohibiting "disturb[ing] or break[ing] up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character" isn't facially unconstitutional, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit has ruled.

On the other hand, the law was unconstitutionally applied to CPR for Skid Row, a homeless rights organization centered in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, home to thousands of homeless people.

By now, we know that states and local governments can't unduly burden an individual's right to own a gun. That hasn't stopped governments from coming up with other ways to enact meaningful gun regulations, though.

In addition to making bullets more expensive, cities and states have enacted laws limiting the sizes of magazines. In Sunnyvale, California, the city prohibits anyone from owning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The Ninth Circuit today agreed with the district court that a preliminary injunction staying enforcement of the ordinance wasn't warranted.

After losing in front of a Ninth Circuit panel, the States of Idaho and Nevada petitioned the full court for an en banc rehearing in Latta v. Otter. A majority of non-recused active judges didn't vote for en banc hearing.

But that doesn't mean some of them aren't upset! Judges Diarmuid O'Scannlain, Carlos Bea, and Johnnie Rawlinson filed a 24-page dissental arguing that "the same-sex marriage debate is not over" because the Sixth Circuit -- alone among the other circuits to decide the issue -- upheld laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

For being "America's Toughest Sheriff," a name he invented for himself, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, gets shot down. A lot.

He has the added disadvantage of Arizona's statutes, which try to butt into space occupied by federal law every chance they can get. Once again, a federal court will teach Arizona a lesson in pre-emption.

Free Speech Rights Won't Protect Porn Producers From Condom Law

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.