Back in January, I discussed a divided First Circuit panel ruling that affirmed a district-court order holding that the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishments requires the Massachusetts prison system to provide sex-reassignment surgery to a prisoner. Today, the en banc First Circuit, by a 3-2 vote, rejected the panel ruling and reversed the district court.
The First Circuit has only six active judges, and its newest judge, David Barron, did not take part in the case (perhaps because he joined the court in the midst of the en banc process). Judge Juan Torruella, who dissented from the panel ruling, wrote the en banc majority and was joined by chief judge Sandra Lynch and Jeffrey Howard. In dissent were the two members of the panel majority, O. Rogeriee Thompson and William Kayatta.