“The Legal Elephant Parade That Is the Ninth Circuit”

In an editorial published yesterday, the Wall Street Journal casually referenced “the legal elephant parade that is the Ninth Circuit.”

Though the Journal gets points for originality, the wittiest critique of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that I’ve heard remains a comment attributed to a district-court judge within the circuit.  This judge reported thusly on the status of a decision that had been appealed from his court to the judges above: “I’ve just been affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, but I still think I’m right.”

Interestingly, the quote immediately above seems to have originated with (or at least, been popularized by) Stanley Weigel, a rather liberal, now-deceased Kennedy appointee. More likely than not, to the extent that this comment provides some insight into the thoughts of its speaker, Weigel was lamenting the tendencies of the relatively conservative Ninth Circuit panels of a bygone era.

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3 Responses

  1. B Smith says:

    Couldn’t pass up sharing this item from IPKat the other day in a similar vein:

    Past historic 7: Sir Arthur Kekewich — was he really the worst judge?

    The seventh item in the little bundle of photocopied articles on IP history which this Kat researched and wrote back in the 1980s, when he was still a full-time academic, deals with the case of Sir Arthur Kekewich, a Chancery Division judge for England and Wales who shouldered the burden of hearing a large number of intellectual property disputes over a period of more than two decades, during which he was execrated for the poor quality of his judicial rulings. As the old joke went:

    “This is a decision of Mr Justice Kekewich, my Lord, but there are other grounds of appeal”.

    Is it true that there is no smoke without fire, and that this unfortunate judge was foundering, out of his depth and beyond his capabilities, in a sea of intellectual property law which he was unable to navigate? Did he owe his position to the fact that he married Marianne, the daughter of a successful solicitor whose name resounds through the Courts of Justice even today, James William Freshfield? Or was he a reliable and efficient judge who was maligned, misunderstood and misrepresented, a sad victim of another’s humour or hostility?

  2. Dan Markel says:

    Actually, I’ve heard that line –I was just affirmed by X but I still think I was right — used by judges on the 9th Circuit who subsequently get affirmed by the Supreme Court!
    Not sure who gets originality points though…

  3. Jon says:

    The line was also associated with Judge Samuel King (D. Hawaii).