Stephen Reinhardt

We’re in the home stretch of October Term 2013 at the Supreme Court. After the final two opinions are handed down on Monday, the justices will scatter to the winds (and supplement their incomes with teaching, often in lovely European destinations).

During the month of July, the clerk classes will turn over. Each week, new clerks will arrive and outgoing clerks will depart — do pass go, do collect your $300,000. (Or more; we’re hearing rumors of possible upward movement this year; drop us a line if you have info to share.)

So now is a good time to look at the latest SCOTUS clerk hires. We have almost all the clerks for October Term 2014, plus a few new hires for October Term 2015….

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The headline in The Onion, which we noted earlier today, pretty much says it all: “Impatient Nation Demands Supreme Court Just Get To The Gay Stuff.” Today, the last day of the Term, SCOTUS granted our wish, issuing its long-awaited rulings on gay marriage in California and on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Last night, I attended the New York City Bar Association’s annual reception and cocktail party celebrating LGBT Pride Month. M. Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal and Lisa Linsky were honored for their work advancing LGBT rights. In her eloquent remarks, Linsky noted that despite all the progress of our community, and regardless of what the Supreme Court rules today, many battles remain to be fought.

How many more battles, and of what intensity? Let’s find out what the Court just decided, on the tenth anniversary of the landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas….

Please note the multiple UPDATES added below.

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In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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* “Almost anything associated with him is necessarily of concern.” Thanks to the D.C. Circuit, Osama bin Laden’s death photos may never see the light of day, no matter how many FOIA requests you file. Sorry, you’ll have to settle for the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty. [McClatchy Newspapers]

* Some would argue that the opinions written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit are like Lex Luthor’s ring in that they keep the heirs of Superman’s co-creator at bay like kryptonite. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ay dios mio, al parecer esta es una gran noticia para la escuela! Yale Law has hired Cristina Rodríguez, an expert in immigration law, as its first Hispanic professor in a tenured position. [National Law Journal]

* Prosecutors established probable cause in the Aurora movie theater shooting case and James Holmes has been ordered to stand trial, but his lawyers aren’t ready to enter his likely NGRI plea yet. [Bloomberg]

* Everyone saw this coming, but that doesn’t mean they have to be any less disgusted by it: Jerry Sandusky filed a motion to get a new trial just three months after being sentenced for his sex abuse conviction. [CNN]

Judge Stephen Reinhardt (left) and Judge Robert Jones

Will 2012 go down as the Summer of Feuding Judges? Over the past few months, we’ve been covering the feud in print between Judge Richard Posner and Justice Antonin Scalia.

And yesterday we wrote about the harsh smackdown by Judge Stephen Reinhardt (9th Cir.) of Chief Judge Robert C. Jones (D. Nevada). Today we’ve got Jones’s rebuttal, which is just as heated. It’s unusual to see a lower-court judge criticizing a judge higher up in the judicial hierarchy, but reverse benchslaps do happen.

How does Judge Jones feel about being called unacceptably arrogant? Let’s just say he responded in kind…

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Judge Reinhardt and me, perfect together.

Such arrogance and assumption of power by one individual is not acceptable in our judicial system.

– Judge Stephen Reinhardt, concurring, in Townley v. Miller. A Ninth Circuit panel stayed a district court’s preliminary injunction order in a case involving Nevada’s “none of these candidates” ballot option.

(More about this interesting and politically charged case, after the jump.)

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[L]aw schools are questioning whether or not they are teaching students the right way, and it seems to me that the bench and the bar can engage in serious discussions with the law schools to advise them whether or not, say for the next 20 years… they have the proper approach for teaching those who will soon be the trustees of the law as active practitioners. That is urgent.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking this week at the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Conference in Maui.

(Justice Kennedy’s defense of Hawaii as a conference venue, after the jump.)

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Or, if you prefer, a ruling on marriage equality. We knew this ruling was coming because the Ninth Circuit kindly informed us in advance that its opinion would be issued today: “The Court anticipates filing an opinion tomorrow (Tuesday, February 7) by 10:00 a.m. in Perry v. Brown, case numbers 10-16696 and 11-16577, regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgement in the case.”

The Ninth Circuit’s practice of providing advance notice of certain opinion filings is very helpful to those who cover the court. It would be nice if other circuit courts followed the Ninth Circuit’s lead. (Yes, I just typed that sentence.)

Now, let’s find out how the three-judge panel ruled in Perry v. Brown (formerly known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger)….

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Justice Kennedy says: 'Open Sesame.'

It’s late May, so we’re entering the home stretch of the Supreme Court Term. Over the next few weeks, the Court will be handing down opinions in the most contentious, closely divided cases.

One such opinion came down today: Brown v. Plata (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Plata). In this high-profile case, a three-judge district court issued an order that directed the State of California to reduce its prison population — e.g., by releasing prisoners (as many as 46,000, at the time of the order) — in order to address problems with overcrowding and poor health care for inmates.

When SCOTUS granted cert, I thought that it did so in order to summarily reverse. Federal judges running penal institutions, ordering tens of thousands of convicted criminals to be let out onto the streets? The district court’s order reeked of the kind of Ninth Circuit liberal activism that doesn’t sit well with the Roberts Court. (Note that one of the members of the three-judge panel was the notoriously left-wing Judge Stephen Reinhardt.)

Well, I was wrong. The Court just affirmed, 5-4, in an opinion by (who else?) Justice Anthony Kennedy.

There were two dissents, by Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. Justice Scalia’s opinion in particular contains some stinging (but ultimately ineffectual) benchslaps….

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Here’s the Ninth Circuit’s certification order, available on the court’s Perry v. Schwarzenegger portal page, and here’s a quick write-up, from Bay City News. Essentially the Ninth Circuit wants the California Supreme Court to decide whether the official proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, have standing to defend the initiative’s constitutionality in court, since the public officials who would normally defend it have declined to do so.

In his concurrence to the certification order and per curiam opinion, liberal lion Stephen Reinhardt had catty comments about the litigation skills and strategy of David Boies, Ted Olson, and their colleagues at Boies Schiller and Gibson Dunn….

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