Ninth Circuit Off to A Bad Start This Supreme Court Term (Again)

by Jonathan Keim

It doesn’t bode well for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that as of today, half of the Supreme Court’s merits opinions this term have been reversals of Ninth Circuit decisions. Of the court’s four per curiam opinions thus far this term, two were wholesale reversals of the Ninth Circuit with no recorded dissenting votes. In one per curiam opinion last month, the Supreme Court even rejected the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning in a single word: “No.”

In the two merits opinions issued from the bench today, the Supreme Court continued the Ninth Circuit’s stranglehold on the high court’s attention, unanimously reversing the Ninth Circuit in one case and unanimously affirming the Eighth Circuit in another.

At this point last year, by contrast, the Ninth Circuit had garnered only one reversal and was tied with the Fifth Circuit for second place, behind two reversals for the Sixth Circuit.

Things could still turn around in the eleven other Ninth Circuit cases under review this term. But Supreme Court commentators often say that the Court generally doesn’t take cases to affirm them, so purely on the odds, things are looking dark for the Ninth Circuit’s win percentage.

But since it’s Christmastime, let’s think happy thoughts: The Ninth Circuit currently has a 100 percent reversal rate, so even a single affirmance would be improvement.

Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.