The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has historically leaned left, which should come as no surprise given its predominantly Democrat judges. Following the recent decision regarding President Trump’s travel ban, the Ninth Circuit has come under fire. Why? For practicing judicial activism in ruling along party lines. Judge Andrew Napolitano criticized the recent decision and deemed it “an intellectually dishonest piece of work”. The Ninth Circuit has the highest rate of sitting Democrat judges at 72%. At this point, is it necessary to ask if there’s a connection between their political allegiances and their decisions?
Critics argue that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has a history of questionable rulings that often align with political ideology as opposed to the rule of law. One of the most controversial aspects of the Ninth Circuit is the size of its jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The question of whether the Ninth Circuit has had the most reversed decisions or not is still up for debate. However, a brief glance at the court’s history would support the assertion that many of its decisions get overturned. Critics the Ninth Circuit say the best evidence for their argument lies within the Supreme Court- it overturns its decisions more often than those of any other circuit. According to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts in Washington, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth 14 times out of 16 cases in the 2008-2009 term — an 88 percent reversal rate.
According to a 2010 analysis conducted by the ABA, eight out of 10 cases from the 9th circuit were reversed. To put things into perspective, The Supreme Court typically only reviews the most compelling cases. Often, the Supreme Court will review cases that could potentially confuse lower level courts. This tells us that the majority of the decisions that were reversed in the Ninth Circuit were particularly important.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the circuit “an activist court that has handed down decisions…to be unconstitutional”. In certain instances, such as the decision in Wong v. Belmontes, the Supreme Court didn’t hold back its scathing criticisms; the opinion hinted at dishonesty on the part of the Ninth Circuit Court. Susan B. Haire, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia, has extensively researched the rates of reversal of various appeals courts. Her findings suggest that the Ninth’s rate of reversal is marginally higher than the other circuits.
Given these figures and statements, perhaps now is as good a time as ever to question the validity of the Ninth Circus’ decisions.