Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—May 7

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2020—Notorious Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt receives another Supreme Court smackdown more than two years after his death. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg (in United States v. Sineneng-Smith), the Court holds that the Ninth Circuit panel on which Reinhardt was the presiding judge until his death—and at the time of the key order that the Court condemns—“departed so drastically from the principle of party representation as to constitute an abuse of discretion.” Specifically, the Court faults the panel for its “takeover of the appeal,” for intervening to displace the arguments made by “competent counsel” on Sineneng-Smith’s behalf and to substitute instead a “radical transformation” of the case that “goes well beyond the pale.”


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