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

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

In a pair of recent panel decisions before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, major California gun-control legislation was upheld over challenges from special interest, gun advocacy groups.

One panel, as explained by Reuters, upheld a recent amendment to California's Gun-Free School Zone Act, prohibiting individuals with a concealed carry permit to have a gun on school grounds unless they are an active, off-duty, or retired peace officer (Case: Gallinger v. Becerra). The other panel upheld a short list of physical requirements gun manufacturers must meet in order to sell a new firearm in the state.

Court Greenlights Case Against San Jose Police for Riot Injuries

If you know the way to San Jose, maybe you also know the song that sold millions in the 1960s.

Dionne Warwick made "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" famous on her way to her first Grammy and third Top Ten. She sang about how how great the city was -- but what a difference a generation makes.

If you go to San Jose today, you might run into police steering you into danger. That's what the plaintiffs say in Hernandez v. City of San Jose, a civil rights case that just got a green light from a federal appeals court.

For the school board members in the Chino Valley school district, the practice of opening meetings with a prayer has been ruled a violation of the Establishment Clause.

While the district and appellate court did recognize a "legislative tradition" of the use of opening prayers by governing bodies, the courts ruled that the school board meetings fell outside that tradition because students were encouraged to participate and attend.

Ninth Circuit: 2nd Amendment Protects Right to Carry Guns Openly for Defense

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to carry a gun openly in public, a federal appeals court ruled.

In Young v. State of Hawaii, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals joined five other federal circuit courts that have said the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun publicly for self-defense. The appeals court did not rule on concealed weapons.

With an increase in mass shootings, the rights of gun owners are more hotly debated than ever. The debate may finally make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal district court in San Francisco recently rejected the City of San Francisco and City of Oakland's lawsuit against several major oil companies. The cities vow that the case is not over, signaling a likely Ninth Circuit appeal.

The case claims that the oil companies produce and sell the oil with full knowledge that it is harming the environment, causing climate change and rising sea levels. The cities sought to hold the companies liable for the future damages that climate change is expected to bring about, particularly if nothing is done to change course. Though Judge Alsup dismissed the case, the ruling isn't all bad for environmental advocates.

Ninth Circuit Clears Mayor's Case Alleging Race-Based Voting Districts

While the U.S. Supreme Court weighed racial gerrymandering in Texas, a California city was caught up in a similar legal fight over voting districts.

A former mayor sued, claiming the City of Poway racially gerrymandered his voting district. It is unusual because the politician is white in a predominantly white town.

A federal judge dismissed the case, but now an appeals court has reversed in Higginson v. Becerra. It's not about minorities; it's about equal protection.

Appeals are often able to correct miscarriages of justice. Sadly, sometimes the appellate court is bound by precedent, and is powerless to do so.

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with one such injustice in the Ellis v. Harrison matter. The defendant in the case, Ezzard Ellis, was represented by a racist attorney at trial. Sometime after Ellis was convicted, he discovered that his attorney was a racist and filed a habeas petition. The attorney's own daughters even provided evidence that their father was a racist. Unfortunately for Ellis, the court refused to grant his petition.

The Regents of the University of California succeeding in having a three year old Title IX case dismissed on summary judgment. Although the facts of the case are wildly disturbing, the federal district court found that the circumstances surrounding the sexual misconduct were so far out of the control of the university that it could not be held liable.

But before y'all go grab the pitchforks and start marching on the Berkeley administration buildings, the facts rather strongly support the dismissal on summary judgment.

Naked Violinist Appeals to the Ninth Circuit

Matthew Mglej is not your ordinary street musician.

One fine day in Portland, Oregon, Mglej went to play his violin outside the federal courthouse. Before playing, however, he took off his clothes.

"He removed his suit and laid it out in a symbolic straw man metaphor to convey a message of transparency in government,'' his lawyer argued inside the courthouse. But as one judge said, nudity is transparent all by itself.

In a case that has entertained those who follow the entertainment industry, IMDb has won summary judgment against the state of California and the Screen Actors Guild. Generally, the case challenged a new law that would have prevented IMDb from publishing the ages of actors and actresses, upon a thespian's request, in order to fight against age discrimination in the industry.

The law was basically struck down last year when the district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced. And now, with the court's summary judgment ruling, the law is all but dead (unless it can be revived by some miraculous appeal, which will likely be filed based on SAG's response).