On Thursday, March 29, Judge Stephen Reinhardt passed away. He has been called the “most liberal judge in America,” and his death leaves an opening in the 9th Circuit Court, one of the highest-profile appellate courts in the federal system.
In 2010, a panel of the 9th Circuit rejected a lawsuit that challenged the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, on the ground that the phrase violated the separation of Church and State. Reinhardt would have upheld that challenge. The other two judges disagreed, and their ruling left the Pledge intact: Reinhardt’s dissenting opinion is an extraordinary 133 pages long.
The Thing to Know:
It is very likely that President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy will be well to the right of the late Judge Reinhardt on many politically and judicially polarizing left/right issues, state/church separation among them, and that this nomination will become a subject of controversy feeding into the midterm election campaigns.