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SCOTUS Candidate: Meet Judge Paul J. Watford of the 9th Circuit

The leading contender for President Obama's nomination to SCOTUS is none other than 9th Circuit Judge Paul J. Watford. However, if the past is any indication, Watford's candidacy will be the source of much resistance. If Judge Watford occupies Justice Scalia's vacancy, he would be the third African-American Justice in the Court's history. But he isn't the only contender on President Obama's increasingly short list of candidates.

The nomination of a candidate to replace Justice Scalia has taken center stage in what is becoming yet another ugly Capitol Hill conflict.

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The Ninth Circuit may soon be getting a new judge and it is likely to be Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Judge Koh, who we once dubbed the "most powerful woman in Silicon Valley," is best known for presiding over the Apple v. Samsung trial, where she won over our hearts by slapping down Apple's request for additional witnesses by asking its attorney if he was smoking crack. (He wasn't.)

Now she may get to dish out the smack from an even higher bench. Here's what you should know about Koh.

Arizona Governor: We Want Out of the 9th Circuit!

Is the Ninth Circuit too liberal? Arizona's governor seems to think so. Recently, he spearheaded an effort to break up the nation's largest circuit.

Is this the beginning of the Twelfth Circuit?

The Ninth Circuit settled a long-standing dispute between federal authorities and Nevada ranchers on Friday, ruling that the Hage family had illegally grazed cattle on federal land without a permit.

But the most noteworthy fight wasn't between renegade ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management, it was between the judges of the Ninth Circuit and District Court Judge Robert C. Jones, who "grossly abused his power" and allowed his "well-established and inappropriately strong" feelings against federal agencies to bias his rulings. This is far from Judge Jones' first time being condemned by the Ninth Circuit.

For years, Volkswagen sold millions of cars with 'defeat devices' designed to evade environmental controls and misrepresent the cars' emissions. When VW's fraud was made public this September, the consumer lawsuits began piling on almost immediately. Over 500 class actions have been filed in 60 federal judicial districts.

Now, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has giving those suits a new home in the Northern District of California, where they will be handled by Judge Charles Breyer, brother to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Did Immigration Services Violate FOIA? 9th Cir. Finds Case Moot

Attorney James Mayock brought a suit against the Federal Agency claimed that USCIS had engaged in a "pattern and practice" of violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for well over several decades. The Ninth Circuit, however, found that Mayock failed to prove standing and that the case was actually moot.

The ruling further suggests that any immigration attorney should think twice before bringing a suit alleging personal harm that is actually the harm of his clients.

A California public defender can continue with her lawsuit against the deputy sheriff who handcuffed her and dragged her through a courthouse, the Ninth Circuit ruled last week. A district court had ruled that the deputy, who was seeking to make sure that the attorney appeared when her case was called, had qualified immunity from the suit, an argument the Ninth rejected. There's no way that the deputy could reasonably believe he had a valid Fourth Amendment reason for the arrest, the unanimous panel held in an opinion by Judge Kozinski.

The ruling revives public defender Florentina Demuth's section 1983 suit against the county and sheriff's department of Los Angeles. At the same time, however, Kozinski scolded both parties for allowing a "tiff" to extend into a lawsuit that has lasted years and cost the city more than $1 million.

The Supreme Court has upheld Arizona's use of independent commissions in drawing legislative districts. In order to prevent gerrymandering, the state elected, through public referendum, to establish an independent commission to draw congressional districts. The state legislature challenged this practice, arguing that it violated the constitution's Elections Clause, which declares that the time, place and manner of Congressional elections should be determined "in each State by the Legislature therefor," though Congress can alter those regulations.

The opinion, written by Justice Ginsburg and joined by Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, held that states weren't limited to having their legislatures in charge of legislative districting, so long as the choice is enacted through proper means. "Legislature," read this way, isn't limited to elective representatives -- it means any law-making authority, including the people themselves.

The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, reheard oral arguments last Tuesday in the case of Peruta v. San Diego County, a controversial challenge to California's concealed carry laws. In California, concealed carry -- the possession of a concealed firearm in public -- is generally prohibited, with permits issued only when one can show just cause for needing to take their gun out for a walk through the town square. Personal safety alone is not enough.

Two Ninth Circuit judges struck down that rule in February, 2014, holding that the "right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense." The en banc rehearing could repudiate that decision.