Bench Memos

Masquerading as a Judge

In another brazen abuse of his judicial office, Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt yesterday purported to issue an order requiring the Office of the Federal Defender for the Central District of California to make an award of back pay to a deputy federal public defender who was not permitted to enroll his same-sex spouse as a beneficiary of his health-care plan.  One of the many problems with Reinhardt’s order is that there was no case before him in his judicial capacity.  Reinhardt was acting in his administrative capacity as designee of the current Chair of the Ninth Circuit’s Standing Committee on Federal Public Defenders.  So why, pray tell, is he permitted to disguise his administrative misdetermination as a Ninth Circuit judicial order (designated “for publication” in the Federal Reporter, no less!)? 

See Matt’s February 2009 post for more on this type of shenanigans (including chief judge Alex Kozinski’s similar escapade).