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9th Circuit November 2014 News

SCOTUS Asks: Do Cops Have ADA Duties to Crazed Knife Lady?

This is the weirdest application of the Americans with Disabilities Act I've ever seen. And with the Ninth Circuit's reputation, and the Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari earlier this week, it may not be long for this world.

1 Week to the New Chief: Montana's Sidney Thomas Takes Top Spot

It's been a heck of a ride with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski at the top of the Ninth Circuit, but with his seven-year term coming to a close, prepare for a different, more subdued, albeit equally able chief: Judge Sidney R. Thomas.

The ageist numbers game that comprise the rules of succession mean that Clinton-appointed Thomas will be the next in line, and because he is a young sixty-one years of age, he should hold the spot down for the next seven years. At the end of a chief judge's term, the position goes to the most senior judge under the age of sixty-five who has not previously served as chief. Terms end after seven years or when the chief reaches the age of seventy.

Sidney Thomas is that man, a Montana man since birth and through law school, the third such man to take the top spot in the nation's busiest circuit.

Mont.'s Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down by Federal Judge

Montana today became the 34th state to permit same-sex marriage after a federal district judge found the state's prohibition on gay marriage unconstitutional.

For those keeping score at home, it's now one federal circuit and two district courts in favor of same sex marriage bans, as opposed to four circuits and over 30 district courts against.

Calif.'s Sex Offender Internet Reporting Requirements Unconstitutional

Back in 2012, Californians decided to double down on punishment for registered sex offenders. Proposition 35 required sex offenders to provide law enforcement with a list of their "Internet identifiers," which could include email addresses, Facebook accounts, or even a user name on an obscure online forum. (Note that Prop. 35 was largely about increasing penalties for human trafficking; the part about sex offender Internet accounts was barely ever mentioned.) Failure to provide law enforcement with written notice of additions or changes to these identifiers, within 24 hours, would subject the offender to criminal penalties.

On the day the proposition took effect, several registered sex offenders sued to block the law's enforcement on First Amendment grounds and on the ground that it was void for vagueness. The district court enjoined enforcement and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

State Can't Intervene in Order to Rehear Calif. Concealed Carry Case

Back in February, the Ninth Circuit struck San Diego's policy of denying concealed carry permits absent a showing of "good cause." General concern for one's own safety wasn't enough; an applicant for a concealed-carry license had to come up with a pretty good reason for needing to carry a gun around in public.

Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court's opinions in District of Columbia v. Heller (the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own a gun) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (the Second Amendment applies to the states) found that, because those opinions were so rooted in "self defense" as an overarching theme of the Second Amendment, a generalized concern for safety was sufficient cause to apply for a concealed carry license.

New Car Owners Not Bound by Sirius XM Arbitration Clause: 9th Cir.

Sirius XM -- boy, it's great, isn't it? Satellite radio gives you a separate station for every decade since the wax cylinder was invented (you'll love their "1880s on 80" station). Plus, there's Howard Stern.

But Sirius comes with a hidden price, other than listening to Howard Stern: An arbitration agreement that purports to bind the consumer, as part of the 90-day free trial that comes with a new car.

9th Circuit Gay Marriage Cases Wrapping Up

Trickle-down equality.

After Windsor. After Latta v. Otter. After all of the high-profile appellate cases comes controlling precedent and typing up loose ends.

The Montana case seems like it's headed for summary judgment. A few motions for en banc rehearing by the Ninth Circuit are pending, but likely won't be granted. And a few other states have thrown in the towel, making gay marriage legal in just a few more jurisdictions.

Here's the roundup:

9th Cir.: It's Still Illegal to Wear Medals You Didn't Earn

In 2009, Elven Joe Swisher was convicted of wearing military medals he didn't earn. Swisher had, in fact, been a member of the military: He served in the Marines and was honorably discharged in 1957 following a combat mission in which he was injured. In 2001, he applied for a claim for service-connected PTSD, providing a narrative and supporting documents stating that he'd received several awards and suffered service-related injuries.

During this time, he wore a Purple Heart medal around, including at the trial of another Marine accused of murder. Turns out, though, that the documents Swisher provided were fraudulent. He had never been awarded any medals. A jury convicted him of several crimes, including wearing unauthorized military medals.