Breaking: One Day After SCOTUS Denies Cert, Judge Reinhardt Invalidates Idaho and Nevada SSM Ban Under Heightened Scrutiny

October 7th, 2014

That was fast! Something tells me that Judge Reinhardt was sitting on this case for a while. At quick glance, the Court applies *heightened* (strict) scrutiny, and finds that the Idaho ban falls.

We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays4 who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline.

The opinion makes no reference to the Court denying certiorari, but it seems to address it indirectly in the context of Baker v. Nelson:

Three other circuits have issued opinions striking down laws like those at issue here since Windsor, and all agree that Baker no longer precludes review. Accord Baskin v. Bogan, No. 14-2386, 2014 WL 4359059, at *7 (7th Cir. Sept. 4, 2014); Bostic v. Schaefer, 760 F.3d 352, 373–75 (4th Cir. 2014); Kitchen v. Herbert, 755 F.3d 1193, 1204–08 (10th Cir. 2014). As any observer of the Supreme Court cannot help but realize, this case and others like it present not only substantial but pressing federal questions.

Reinhardt has this uncanny ability to be on the right panels. He was on the Prop 8 panel. He was on the SmithKline v. Abbott panel that found heightened scrutiny applied. And he made it onto the Idaho same-sex marriage panel.

Update: Derek the Muller ran the numbers–1 in in 1000.

That’s slightly deceptive–it’s not unique to these three cases. It’s simply because the odds of being on any three random panels are 1 in 1000 in the Ninth Circuit.

But here’s now the math works.

There are 29 active judges in the Ninth Circuit. The odds of being on any given panel are 1/29 + 1/28 + 1/27, or 10.72%.

But there are also 16 senior judges, and one of them may sit on a panel with two active judges. In those cases, the odds are 1/45 + 1/29 + 1/28, or 9.24%.

So assuming the odds of selecting the first judge are completely random, there is a 29/46 chance that the first set of odds applies, and a 16/45 chance that the second set of odds applies for an active judge. That means we have 10.72 * (29/45) + 9.24 * (16/45), or 10.2%, that an active judge will be selected for a given panel.

If we’re looking at three panels, we take those odds and raise them to the third power. That leaves the odds of serving on any given three panels as 0.106%, or just about 1 in 1000.