Objection! Politics doesn't belong on the bench
The courts of this country should base their decisions and rulings on the law. Period! They should not render decisions based on political ideology or party loyalty. When they improperly inject their political biases or loyalties into their decisions, they cast a stain on our legal system and those who serve it.
Introducing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 9th Circuit is one of the most liberal courts in the country and has been a sore spot for conservatives for years.
Critics have slammed the 9th for being too big, too liberal and too slow at resolving cases.
They've also mocked it mercilessly, calling it the "Nutty 9th" or the "9th Circus," in part because many of its rulings have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. This includes an infamous 2002 ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of its use of the phrase "under God." The court over the years also has knocked down state bans on assisted suicide and ruled that no American has the constitutional right to own a gun.
Between 2010-2015, the Supreme Court reversed about 70 percent of the total cases before it – the 9th Circuit's reversal rate was higher at 79 percent, though the highest in the nation was the 6th Circuit, which covers Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky and clocked in at 87 percent.
During the court's 2016 term, however, the reversal rate for the 9th jumped to 88 percent."
While the 9th Circuit's reversal rate is not necessarily the highest in the country, it is not far from the top. From a practical standpoint, this indicates that the court is getting things wrong. It could be applying the wrong legal standards, allowing personal judgments and biases to shape its rulings, misinterpreting the law, etc. While it is not necessarily unusual for a judge (or a panel of judges in the case of an appeal) to be reversed, the reversal rate for the 9th Circuit suggests that something more than the occasional, innocent mistake is going on. One need only look at the political makeup of this court to understand what is happening and why.
Based in San Francisco, the 9th Circuit covers nine western states, has 29 active judgeships and seven vacancies, with an eighth coming in August. Its current political split is 16-6.
"The Ninth Circuit is out in left field and has been since a major expansion of the court allowed President Carter – and Senator Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) – to pack its left wing in the late 1970s," Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said.
The numbers don't lie. This is a predominantly liberal court, which, in and of itself, is not a problem. The problem rears its ugly head when a court blatantly and unapologetically allows politics to dictate how it rules.
While I am a conservative Republican and a litigator, I expect transparency among the different courts and judges. I also expect rulings that are supported by the law and facts, not guided by personal animus aimed at a specific person or party. While judges are human beings with their own opinions, biases, and loyalties, these should never serve as the sole or primary catalyst behind their decisions and rulings.
The 9th Circuit appears to have forgotten this important lesson on more than one occasion. In some cases, the Supreme Court was there to serve as the gatekeeper, which is fortunate.
Considering the 9th Circuit's liberal mentality, makeup, and loyalty, change is desperately needed. While many Republicans would love for President Trump to appoint as many conservative judges as possible (there are currently several vacancies in the 9th Circuit), this will not be an easy task. Several Democratic senators have already expressed their intention to utilize blue slips to obstruct and block one or more of the president's judicial appointments.
As is usually the case these days, politics will get in the way.
Mr. Hakim is an attorney and a political commentator and writer. His articles have been published in several online magazines and newspapers including American Thinker, the Sun-Sentinel, the Florida Jewish Journal, and the Palm Beach Post. Website: www.eladhakimpa.com; Twitter: @Elad3599.