9TH CIRCUIT

Per a reader question, more info on 9th Circuit reversal rates:

Of the 80 cases the Supreme Court decided this past term [2002] through opinions, 56 cases arose from the federal appellate courts, three from the federal district courts, and 21 from the state courts. The court reversed or vacated the judgment of the lower court in 59 of these cases. Specifically, the justices overturned 40 of the 56 judgments arising from the federal appellate courts (or 71%), two of the three judgments coming from the federal district courts (or 67%), and 17 of the 21 judgments issued by state courts (or 81%).

Notably, the 9th Circuit accounted for both 30 percent of the cases (24 of 80) and 30 percent of the reversals (18 of 59) the Supreme Court decided by full written opinions this term. In addition, the 9th Circuit was responsible for more than a third (35%, or 8 of 23) of the High Court’s unanimous reversals that were issued by published opinions. Thus, on the whole, the 9th Circuit’s rulings accounted for more reversals this past term than all the state courts across the country combined and represented nearly half of the overturned judgments (45%) of the federal appellate courts.

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Although the 9th Circuit’s caseload comprised approximately 17% of the federal appellate cases terminated in the year ending March 31, 2002, its decisions accounted for close to half (43%) of all the federal appellate decisions reviewed by the Supreme Court this past term.

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These continuing negative trends are certainly not reflective of the competency of the 9th Circuit’s entire bench, which includes some of the most respected appellate judges in the country. It is, however, indicative of a judicial philosophy to which some 9th Circuit judges adhere. Specifically, in pursuing political and policy preferences at the expense of established precedent and textual commands, some 9th Circuit judges seem to invite review and reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Source)

See also

  • Split the circuit
  • Murkowski report
  • WaPo story 9-17-03
  • FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

    Comments

    1. JohnC says:

      Many thanks for the links n’ such. This still doesn’t seem to support the contention that was being presented. Still smells an awful lot like propaganda to me.

    2. James Joyner says:

      John,

      The contention is that the 9th Circuit is a) liberal and b) often overturned.

      That is is liberal is certainly no surprise. That a liberal court would be overturned by a comparatively conservative Supreme Court isn’t much of a surprise.

      The money ‘graph is:

      Although the 9th Circuit’s caseload comprised approximately 17% of the federal appellate cases terminated in the year ending March 31, 2002, its decisions accounted for close to half (43%) of all the federal appellate decisions reviewed by the Supreme Court this past term.

      To the extent this reflects the general trend–and I understand it does–this is hardly a matter of propaganda.

    3. JohnC says:

      Half reviewed isn’t half overturned though, right? And if the cases are important and controversial, why wouldn’t they be reviewed? It’s important law. And just because they’re reviewed doesn’t mean they’re over turned. in fact, “the 9th Circuit accounted for both 30 percent of the cases (24 of 80) and 30 percent of the reversals (18 of 59)” Sounds normal to me.

      So I’m still confused. It seems to me that there’s no there there.

      The contention is the 9th circuit is the “most over turned appellate court”. Clearly, this is only true if you ignore the 4th, 5th, 8th and 10th circuit, which were overturned 100% of the time.

      I don’t think the point being made on the right is the “most reviewed”.

      Sorry for being so dim.

    4. James Joyner says:

      John,

      For the most part, the Supremes don’t review a case unless they think they need to DO something with it. Usually, that means overturn. Sometimes, it means to reconcile it with what other circuits are doing.

      – 17% of all cases at Circuit level
      – 43% of all cases reviewed by Supremes
      – 45% of all reversals by Supremes

      And there’s no evidence that the cases the 9th hears are more important than those elsewhere. Indeed, the DC Circuit likely holds that distinction.

    5. JohnC says:

      Ah, thanks. This is more clear now.

    6. James Joyner says:

      No prob.

      And, to re-emphasize, the argument seems to be twofold as to why this is:

      1. The 9th is simply more liberal/activist than the other courts

      2. The sheer size of the Circuit and incredibly large number of judges and thus 3-panel combo possibilities makes for a ton of odd rulings. The circuit is way too damn big.