Let’s play a quick game (which we might return to later if there’s interest). If we were to give out awards to the different federal judicial circuits, in the manner of a high school yearbook, which awards would go to the different circuits? Here are some of my nominations:
(Article III groupies: Feel free to suggest others, in the comments.)
As for the other awards, well, they’d all go to the Ninth Circuit. It’s the nation’s most famous (or infamous) federal appeals court, so it would win “Most Likely To Become A Celebrity.” It’s the biggest, so it would win “Most Popular” (especially among the ACS and ACLU crowd). It would win “Most Athletic,” since it includes California. And it would win “Biggest Flirt,” thanks to its numerous superhottie judges. (Don’t you wish they all could be California jurists?)
The Ninth Circuit would also run away with “Most Likely To Be Made Fun of on YouTube” — since it already has been. How many circuit courts can claim that distinction?
Check out this short and funny video, “The 12 Days of Winter” (yes, “Winter,” not “Christmas” — that’s intentional). I don’t agree with all of the sentiments expressed in it — so what if Suzie has two mommies? — but it is quite entertaining, even if you don’t share the creator’s political outlook.
The Ninth Circuit shout-out appears at around the 1:15 mark (but it’s short enough that you might as well watch the whole thing):
Reached for comment on the video, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski had this to say: “Just shows the importance of wise product placement.”
This is, by the way, not the first time the Ninth Circuit has been accused of stealing Christmas. In 2007, a children’s book was published with the title Help! Mom! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity! (affiliate link). Here’s the description:
Johnny and Luke loved being in Miss Bardin’s third-grade class — especially at Christmas time, when the class put on its annual pageant, complete with a nativity scene and even an obliging donkey! But when Senator Weary, Al Snore, Congresswoman Clunkton and the whole 9th Circuit court show up demanding an end to the fun and festivities in the name of diversity, global warming, and stinky French cheese, all is almost lost until Johnny, Luke and an unexpected hero armed with a mysterious piece of paper unite to save Christmas.
Johnny and Luke, stop whining about the Ninth. If that court doesn’t rule your way, how can you boys get married? [FN1]
In fairness to the Ninth Circuit, it should be noted that the court is not universally hostile to religion or to public religious displays. Consider the First Amendment jurisprudence of my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, which displays ample respect for organized religion and religious freedom.
In 1993, Judge O’Scannlain wrote the majority opinion in Kreisner v. City of San Diego, upholding a religious display in a public park during the Christmas season against an Establishment Clause challenge. Then-Judge Kozinski concurred; Judge Robert Boochever dissented. Rehearing en banc was called for — no surprise there — but the vote failed.
So, Merry Christmas — or Happy Winter, if you insist — from your friends at the Ninth Circuit!
[FN1] Sorry if you’re offended by my stereotyping of third-grade boys who are into nativity scenes — but you’ll have to trust me on this, since I was once one myself. My mother has a vast collection of Christmas decorations, and as a child, I’d help her set up a nativity scene on the side table in the foyer. We’d put cotton balls in the manger! Those were some of the happiest days of my life….
The 12 Days of Winter – The Heidi Harris Show on News Talk 720 KDWN/Las Vegas, NV [YouTube]
Help! Mom! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity! [Amazon (affiliate link)]
Divided Court Upholds Park Nativity Scene [Los Angeles Times]
Kreisner v. City of San Diego [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]