9th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Washington's Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case styled J.S. v. Village Voice Media, but known better as the "Backpage" case. Backpage.com is a website, owned by Village Voice Media, that allows people to contract with "escort" services for -- well, the things that you would do with an escort.

The plaintiffs are minors who were between 15 and 17 when they were allegedly sex trafficked -- not by Backpage, but by professional pimps who posted ads for them on Backpage. They claim that Village Voice knew exactly what was going on; namely, that pimps trafficked in underage girls on Backpage, but did nothing about it because they were making a whole lot of money.

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.

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.

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 an amended opinion and order, the Ninth Circuit has declined a request for a rehearing en banc in Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District. Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain and two other judges wrote a dissent to the denial for an en banc rehearing.

What Happened

Here's a refresher: On May 5, 2010 (Cinco de Mayo), a group of students wore T-shirts with American flags on them to Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California. The shirts appeared to be designed to inflame Mexican-American students at the school; there was a history of tension between white and Hispanic students. The students wearing T-shirts went home that day rather than turn their shirts inside-out as instructed by school officials; after they left, they received threats from other students.

The only thing I know about NCIS is that my mom loves it (the TV show, that is). And I love to see Mark Harmon working a steady job.

But today, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the real-life NCIS exceeded the scope of its authority by investigating civilian child pornography. Cue David Caruso. Oops, wrong show.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit heard the long-awaited arguments in same-sex marriage cases out of Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii. And if you were expecting anything other than downright skepticism of states' arguments from the judges, well, you haven't been paying attention.

Monte Neil Stewart was the primary recipient of the judges' questions. The private attorney first represented Idaho, then pinch hit in Nevada's case for intervenors, since the state declined to defend its laws in the wake of the Ninth Circuit's Smithkline Beecham v. Abbot Labs ruling.

Barring some sort of divine intervention, the liberal three-judge panel is pretty much guaranteed to follow the Tenth, Fourth, and Seventh Circuits' leads and rule in favor of gay marriage in all three states.