Judging Liberally In The West
The same notoriously liberal appellate court that ruled unconstitutional the word God in the Pledge of Allegiance, overturned a first-degree murder conviction because the victims’ family wore buttons with his picture in court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the California case next month and hopefully it will overturn the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals‘ bizarre decision, which said that the picture buttons worn by the victim’s family deprived the murderer of a fair trial because they conveyed a specific message – that the defendant was guilty. Never mind the overwhelming evidence and multiple witnesses that testified in the vicious gun attack.
In fact, the infamously liberal justice who wrote the opinion for the 9th Circuit’s three-judge panel said that “a reasonable jurist would be compelled to conclude that the buttons worn by [the victims’] family members conveyed the message that the defendant was guilty.” The court compared it to a 1976 Supreme Court Ruling that said it would be unfair to require a criminal defendant to wear jail clothes during trial because the jury would infer guilt.
The veteran justice, Stephen Reinhardt, was appointed to the court by Jimmy Carter and is often referred to as a liberal legal activist on the bench. He happens to be married to the executive director of the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union, Ramona Ripston.
The 75-year-old judge has the honor of having two cases up before the Supreme Court this session and is a member of the appellate court that most gets reversed by the high court – 15 reversals out of 18 cases last term alone.
Reinhardt was also on the three-judge panel that overturned the California death sentence of a man who brutally killed a woman by beating her with an iron dumbbell because jurors “might not have taken into account the defendant’s potential for a positive adjustment to life in prison.”
No wonder one magazine article said Judge Reinhardt’s jurisprudence has become increasingly eccentric and sloppy. That story was published back in 1997.