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

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Surrogate Mother Can't Regain Her Children, 9th Cir. Rules

Attorney Robert Walmsley has been on the forefront of surrogacy law since before it became the law.

That's because he represented the biological parents against a surrogate they hired in Johnson v. Calvert, the groundbreaking case that upheld a surrogacy contract in California in 1993. And so it was natural for him to cite his own case on behalf of his client in a dispute between a surrogate and a biological father.

In Cook v. Harding, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the surrogate's efforts to wrest triplets from a man who paid her to carry the children to term. As it turned out, her attorneys should have read the law more carefully.

Dividing pensions and retirement benefits is rarely a simple task, as many family law practitioners can attest. When it comes to splitting up retirement assets, attorneys must navigate challenging issues that require a thorough understanding of a particularly complex area of law.

Fortunately, you don't have to struggle through the process alone. An upcoming program by The Rutter Group, Dividing Pension and Retirement Benefits, can help even the most experienced family law attorneys deal with the complexities of pension and retirement benefit division -- and making a difficult, tricky area of law a bit easier.

The parents of a disabled student in Hawaii are entitled to reimbursement from the state for his private school expenses, the Ninth Circuit ruled on Friday. Since the Hawaii Department of Education failed to propose an adequate public school placement for the student, it was responsible for paying for his private education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Further, the parents were entitled to two years to seek reimbursement, since the private placement had stemmed from joint, if litigious, decision between the family and the school system and was not taken on unilaterally.

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:

And 2 More: 9th Cir. Strikes Idaho, Nev. Gay Marriage Bans

It's here folks, and it's exactly as expected: In a joint opinion for Latta 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.

States' Arguments Against Gay Marriage Unsurprisingly Unconvincing

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.

Gay Marriage at the 9th Cir.: Oral Argument Preview for ID, NV, HI

And then there were three.

While the Ninth Circuit originally had challenges to four states' gay marriage bans lined up for oral argument, Oregon's case came to an unsurprising end last week, when the Ninth Circuit dismissed the National Organization for Marriage's appeal of a denied motion to intervene. Since none of the actual parties to the case appealed, the court dismissed the case as well.

That leaves us with three states: Hawaii, Nevada, and Idaho, all of which are set for marathon oral arguments on Monday at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.

Read on for more information on the court's live video stream of the arguments as well as the judges who will hear those arguments.

In Weirdest Battle Yet, Oregon Adds To Gay Marriage's Win Streak

In a textbook example of the absurdity that can occur when state officials, for better or worse, decide not to defend state laws, a federal court just made gay marriage legal over the opposition of no one at all, and with no appeal likely.

Shortly before U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane handed down the thirteenth straight victory for gay marriage since Windsor, the Ninth Circuit denied a stay of further proceedings requested by a third-party organization hoping to defend the voter-approved referendum.

Will Gay Juror Case End Nevada's Same-Sex Marriage Battle?

Until now, Nevada's Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has fought vehemently to uphold the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

As recently as last week, on the same day that the Ninth Circuit held that a heightened standard of scrutiny, as well as equal protection principles, applied to gays, the state submitted a brief that reportedly placed gay marriage in the context of bigamy and incest.

By Friday afternoon, Masto's office had backed off via a press release, announcing that in light of the Smithkline opinion, many of the arguments made in the brief were now untenable.

Extensions Sought in Same-Sex Marriage Cases; Hawaii Likely Moot

The twin challenges to Nevada and Hawaii's prohibitions on same-sex marriage took further steps towards diverting, and in Hawaii's case, derailing. Though the cases were initially put on parallel tracks by the Ninth Circuit, extensions were requested in both cases, postponing the resolution of the issue in both states.

In Hawaii's case, a prior extension was granted due to the state legislature's plan to address the issue. A second unopposed request was filed earlier this week, after Hawaii became the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage, Equality on Trial reports.