9th Circuit

Justice Defends 9th Circuit


The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is known for how frequently its liberal-leaning decisions are reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the last session, the reversal rate was 90 percent.

But those statistics can be misleading, according to someone who has a close-up view of the cases: Justice John Paul Stevens.

The 87-year-old justice spoke to a conference of the appeals court held in Honolulu last week, the National Law Journal reports. He pointed out that, like the 9th Circuit, two other federal appeals courts had upheld school integrations plans and two other appeals courts had struck down bans on so-called partial-birth abortions.

The Supreme Court reversed the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit in those cases, striking down programs that use race as a factor in school admissions in Parents United v. Seattle School District and upholding a federal ban on partial-birth abortions in Gonzales v. Carhart.

The justice noted that the court issued just 73 opinions last session and acknowledged it may be deciding fewer cases than it should. But the workload suits him, he said. “If the rate was at a level of 150 cases a year, as it was in the past, I would have left the court long ago.”

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