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U.S. Supreme Court

High Court ‘in Scold Mode’ in 9th Circuit Reversals; Was There a Message for Reinhardt?

Posted Jan 31, 2011 12:54 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has recently taken a beating before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Decisions by the San Francisco-based appeals court were rejected in five cases in a row—and the Supreme Court was unanimous each time, the Washington Post reports. Some experts believe the cluster of reversals and the language of the opinions are intended to send a message. The high court has been “in scold mode,” the Post says.

Three of the cases reversed criminal opinions written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, considered the country’s most liberal justice, the Post says. A San Francisco Chronicle columnist wrote that the high court “clearly was sending a message” to the 9th Circuit, and particularly Reinhardt.

In one of the opinions, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the 9th Circuit had shown “judicial disregard for the sound and established principles” of habeas corpus. Kennedy is the only justice who previously served on the 9th Circuit, and assigning the opinion to him may have been part of the message, according to University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman, who spoke to the Post.

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