As long as we’re all looking at Reinhardt’s record…

December 7, 2010 at 7:15 pm 69 comments

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2010-12-07 At 1.10.01 Pm-1As the far-right continues to toss around “Reinhardt’s a radical liberal” claims in order to discredit one of the three members of the 9th Circuit panel tasked with hearing the Prop 8 appeal, we want to stop and offer some brief perspective.

(#1) Reinhardt’s supposed “liberal” record in terms of gay rights really constitutes nothing more than doing the right and principled thing in the face of others’ unfair treatment. Like back in 1976, when Reinhardt served as on the Los Angeles police commission and took on the chief when it came to unfair harassment at gay bars:

Long Beach Independent, 5/21/1976


A commitment o fair and dignified treatment in the face of “powerful lobby” claims. Sounds familiar, huh?

Though (#2), even though Reinhardt does clearly support equality (which again, is just plain right, not right or left), the judge is also on record showing the kind of restraint that should make conservatives happy. Like in 1988, when he dissented from the other two members of a 9th Circuit panel because the law of the land at that time (pre-Lawrence v. Texas) simply wouldn’t allow him to side with how own conscience:

With great reluctance, I have concluded that I am unable to concur in the majority opinion. Like the majority, I believe that homosexuals have been unfairly treated both historically and in the United States today. Were I free to apply my own view of the meaning of the Constitution and in that light to pass upon the validity of the Army’s regulations, I too would conclude that the Army may not refuse to enlist homosexuals. I am bound, however, as a circuit judge to apply the Constitution as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court and our own circuit, whether or not I agree with those interpretations. Because of this requirement, I am sometimes compelled to reach a result I believe to be contrary to the proper interpretation of constitutional principles. This is, regrettably, one of those times.

As the majority points out, Sgt. Watkins has every reason to feel aggrieved. His homosexuality has been well known for many years. During that entire period, his army service has been exemplary. Those who have worked with him, including his supervisors, are anxious to see him continue with his military career. Yet, under the Supreme Court’s (and our own circuit’s) interpretation of the Constitution, the Army is free to terminate that career solely because he is a homosexual. There are only three entities which have the authority to afford Sgt. Watkins the relief which I, like the majority, believe a proper interpretation of the Constitution would require. First, the Supreme Court could undo the damage to the Constitution wrought by Hardwick; it could overrule that precedent directly or implicitly. Second, the Army could voluntarily abandon its unfair and discriminatory regulation (or, I would assume, the Department of Defense could direct it to do so). Third, the Congress could enact appropriate legislation prohibiting the armed services from excluding homosexuals. I recognize that from a practical standpoint the existence of these forums may offer Sgt. Watkins little solace. Nevertheless, I do not believe that a panel of the Ninth Circuit may, consistent with its duty to apply precedent properly, afford him the relief he seeks.

For the above reasons, I must reluctantly dissent.

Sergeant Perry J. Watkins vs. United States Army [9th Circuit]

Funny how the conservatives overlook this highly pertinent example when building their cases against the judge.

But now we’re on to phase (#3), the day when past precedents are lifted and long-held commitments are free to prevail. We’re happy to have Reinhardt on board not because he fits in sort of partisan labels, but because he transcends them.

Entry filed under: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Prop 8 trial.

Is NOM lying to you (again?) BREAKING: DADT repeal likely to come up for a vote tonight

69 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sagesse  |  December 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm


    • 2. Ronnie  |  December 7, 2010 at 7:42 pm


      • 3. Ronnie  |  December 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm

        lol…ok that would have worked had I checked the frikin box….<3…Ronnie

  • 4. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you, Jeremy, and AMEN!!!!!!

  • 5. Kathleen  |  December 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Great post, Jeremy.

    I’m home and still buzzing from the last couple of days. Celebrating equality is intoxicating!!

    • 6. Ann S.  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      Good to get some more background on Reingardt. He sounds even more like the principled and thoughtful judge he is reputed to be.

      • 7. Ann S.  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

        I cleek box now.

        • 8. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 6:14 am

          I cleek now too…

      • 9. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 6:07 am

        Thank you Jeremy! Great post to wake up to!

        I was moved reading Reinhardt’s thoughtful treatment of Sgt Watkins and by this comment:

        “But now we’re on to phase (#3), the day when past precedents are lifted and long-held commitments are free to prevail. We’re happy to have Reinhardt on board not because he fits in sort of partisan labels, but because he transcends them. ”

        ….and thank you to those who shared their experiences of attending the hearing in person : ) Hoping we have many more equality celebrations soon! (Hi Kathleen, Ann S & Sheryl!)

        • 10. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:11 am

          Hi Gregory! Wish you could have been there along with us.

    • 11. Sheryl, Mormon Mother of a wonderful son who just happens to be gay  |  December 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      So glad you were able to be here for Dec. 6 and happy that I was able to meet you, Kathleen. Was also good meeting Ann S. and her brother and his husband, and spending time with Dave P., Alan E., and Brandon again. Also enjoyed the brief hello with Arisha. Wish all of you could have been there.

      Sheryl, Mormon Mother


      • 12. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:12 am

        Sheryl, it was so great to meet you, too. I’m so glad I could be there.

    • 13. Bob  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:31 am

      glad you’re finally home Kathleen, thanks for attending the court case, was great to see you there,,,,,hope you rest up, and the intoxication brings happy dreams, and refreshes your energy,,,,,for moving forward, cheers Bob

  • 14. Cat  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Great post indeed. Sounds like he does not let his personal beliefs get into the way of proper legal analysis. This will fall on deaf ears in the NOM camp (and THEY are the one who could learn a lot on that front), but at least we know better…

  • 15. Alan E  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Reinhardt reminds me of a Vogon, especially the way he carelessly flipped through his binders.

    • 16. Ann S.  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm

      Since I clearly don’t get out enough, I had to look up Vogons. Wikipedia helpfully supplies this:

      Vogons are slug-like but vaguely humanoid, are bulkier than humans and have green skin, although the movie has them have greyish white skin . Vogons are described as mindlessly bureaucratic, aggressive, having “as much sex appeal as a road accident” and the writers of “the third worst poetry in the universe”. They are employed as the galactic government’s bureaucrats.

      A dynamo of a woman who sat next to Kathleen in court said she had heard Reinhardt give a speech, and that he was, without doubt, the Most. Boring. Public. Speaker. On. Earth.

      That would sort of fit in with Vogons, I think.

      • 17. Sagesse  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:50 pm

        Ann, you must read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by the late Douglas Adams (a cousin to the Monty Python crowd). It will all become clear. And the answer is 42.

        • 18. Ann S.  |  December 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm

          Please don’t hate me if I say that I began it once and it just didn’t grab me.

          • 19. Sagesse  |  December 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm

            It’s an acquired taste. Like single malt scotch.

          • 20. Ann S.  |  December 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm

            Now, that I do like.

          • 21. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 7:39 am

            I never know what random comment here with trigger a powerful memory for me…

            I don’t like either : /

            Hitchhiker’s guide….what Ann said (though like some sci fi)

            Scotch….yuck! During my reparitive “therapy”(attempt at brain washing) years I sometimes drank…not a regular drinker. I had not touched alcohol for a few years but in the middle of the day I stole a bottle of fairly good scotch from restaurant I was working at, took it home, and with 15 mins drank the whole fifth diluted with water. I ended up in the ER and nearly died. My wife was disgusted with me and dropped me off with anger and frustration on the way to a music rehearsal. The ER staff treated handled me roughly as though I was a common drunk… forcing a tube down my throat until it bled and had to drink much charcoal. It seems I viewed this scene outside my body.

            I don’t recall any particular incident that prompted me to OD… I see clearly my hopelessness and lack of information that would have helped me. This awareness compels me to proactively educate others as I can.

            As I recall this event a powerful feeling of FU Maggie! FU McCain! and all you haters rises up….but dissipates quickly as I realize I am not in that same pathetic position of stealing and drinking for “no reason”. I feel compassion for whatever self-hate and ignorance causes Maggie et all to cling to their little fence they draw around themselves.

            Today I’m living the life I dreamed about…with my dear hubby who thrills me and challenges me to be a better person on a daily basis.

          • 22. Kathleen  |  December 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

            Hugs, Gregory. I’m so glad you survived and are here today with the man you love. I’m in awe of people like you who can survive such abuse and the self-loathing it creates and still come through it filled with love and compassion for others. It’s a privilege to know you. I hope we get to meet in person some day.

          • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

            TU Dear Kathleen *tears*…sigh….looking forward to meeting you! ((HUGS)) Gregory

          • 24. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

            Gregory, thanks for sharing that story. It helps demonstrate (yet again) the harm that can be done when people feel the only way they can be accepted by society or their church or their family is to live a lie.

            I second what Kathleen says about being glad you’ve survived to become the loving and compassionate person you are today, and I’d also love to meet you in real life someday.


          • 25. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

            Thank you Ann S : ) ((HUGS)) for you too!

      • 26. Alan E.  |  December 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm

        The movie version of the Vogons was pretty good. If you look for a clip from the movie with the Vogons, then you might agree.

        • 27. Elizabeth Oakes  |  December 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm

          But take a towel.

          • 28. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:14 am

            Yes, take a towel, 42, thanks for all the fish — I know some of the lines from hearing them from others. Someday I’ll give it another try.

          • 29. Sagesse  |  December 8, 2010 at 5:17 pm

            @Ann S.

            Our family loves it. I bought it for my son when he was 11, and we’ve read, watched and listened to it for years. He’s given it to a dozen friends over the years as a birthday/Xmas/Bar Mitzvah present.

            If you like the Monty Python genre of British humour, you’ll like Hitchhiker. And if it’s not your thing, we’ll all understand. We’re very accepting that way around here :).

        • 30. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

          perhaps I’ll revisit as I do not think the same way as when first visited “hitchhiker”

          LOL : )

      • 31. Elizabeth Oakes  |  December 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

        The dude’s 79 years old, cut him some slack. I’ll be dull and lifeless if I have work until I’m almost 80, too. :)

        • 32. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

          So true! That is putting it in perspective!

    • 33. fiona64  |  December 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Oh, frettled grunt-bugglies;
      Thy micturations are to thee
      Like burbles on a lurgid bee.

      /Vogon poetry


      • 34. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  December 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

        Better than Klingon Opera :-)

        • 35. fiona64  |  December 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm

          I am sorry to report (or perhaps delighted, depending upon your perspective) that I recited the Frettled Grunt-buggly poem during a fundraiser about 15 years ago. We were doing a Beatnik Coffee House event and I, wearing obligatory turtleneck and black beret, recited the godawful Vogon poem while a friend played the bongos.


          • 36. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm

            And you didn’t get it on video? Shame on you!

          • 37. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 9, 2010 at 9:16 am

            too cool fiona — love it!

  • 38. Rhie  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm


  • 39. Elizabeth Oakes  |  December 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    What?? Reinhardt thinks you should treat people who are different from you with some kind of respect?? What kind of crazy radical left-wing Commie idea is THAT?!?!?!?!

  • 40. Michael  |  December 8, 2010 at 12:09 am

    The militant anti-gay pressure group NOM simply uses Reinhardt as a convenient target in their efforts to foment hatred against our nation’s judicial system. Judge Reinhardt is standing in their way of silencing and removing any judge who refuses to march in lockstep with their immoral anti-gay agenda.

  • 41. mackenzie  |  December 8, 2010 at 6:58 am

    A vote to move forward with the defense bill and dadt could come today!

    • 42. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

      Oh! didn’t know…thank you for alert! Researching….

    • 43. Bob  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:39 am

      mackenzie, any more info on DADt, would be appreciated,,,,,things are soo screwed up right now, with the dems pissed about Obama’s deal re tax cuts, they could take up all the time they have just fighting that if they decide to,

      DADT needs our attention if it is going to move forward,,,,,

      appreciate any info you have thanks

  • 44. Kathryn Howie  |  December 8, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Michael – lockstep is a very appropriate term to use with the NOM as lockstep was originally used in US (and Canada) prisons, for marching groups of prisoners from place to place , and sometimes simply as a group punishment. It was discontinued in the early part of last century.
    NoM are certainly prisoners of their limited intellectual and blinkered theocratic view of the world and humanity bordering on the fascist, and are certainly reminiscent of the period prior to the last century. Its rather ironic that NoM keep whining about religious freedom when long standing Churches like the Quakers and The successor churches from the Pilgrims and the other early settlers, who were fleeing religious persecution, support equal marriage and want to be free to solemonise marriage in their places of worship for GLBT individuals, contrary to the Mormon and RC – so much for the 1st amendment they claim to support.

    Judge Reinhardt came across as very intelligent and decent with a sense of humor,if dry, and as if he had put considerable effort into pre-hearing preparation; as it seems the other two judges on the panel did too.
    Really pleased they decided to televise it on c-span – live, as that meant it was easily accessible world wide on the internet. Boise and Olson were brilliant, an experience to remember.

  • 45. Carol  |  December 8, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Beating up on Reinhardt like they do has become really tiresome. Vilifying him (as some of us may do with his polar opposite, Justice Thomas) puts no pressure on him because he has the job for as long as he wants it. His colleagues and the Supremes don’t care what NOM thinks about him.

    I expect a unanimous decision authored by Hawkins as presiding judge of this panel, possibly with a concurring opinion by Smith. My impression of Smith the other day was that he is the most likely to find standing but is as committed as Hawkins and Reinhardt to equality under the law. I believe they want to decide the appeal on the merits.

    Thanks to the court and C-Span for opening up the process to the world! And, of course, to Boies and Olson for their confident brilliance!

    • 46. Kate  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:09 am

      Given what we saw transpire at the appeal hearing, I’m actually finding myself hoping that these 3 judges will opt to decide the case on the merits……. What I do NOT want to see is them sending the standing question on to the CA Supreme Court for cert. Talk about a huge delay! I’d rather they just give ’em standing than do that, I think. Anybody else? Am I missing something critical about cert?

      • 47. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:43 am

        your evaluation seems good to me…I get disoriented pretty quick in the legal wranglings. : /

        (good morning Kate!)

      • 48. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

        I think that it is unlikely that they would send it to the CA S. Ct.

        As Boies ably pointed out, that still won’t get them past the major standing problem — the proponents suffered no particularized harm. Hawkins and Reinhardt had a more expansive view of standing when they were on the panel for Arizonans for Official English, but since they were shot down by a unanimous Supreme Court on that one, they are probably likely to take a different view now.

      • 49. MJFargo  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:24 am

        They’re going to need to explain why they gave them standing (and perhaps in this case they can) since two of them were on the Arizona case that the SCOTUS jumped on. If they grant standing and rule on the merits, that gives the SCOTUS license to not only throw out the 9th’s ruling but meddle around in the case. They need a REASON to grant standing. I’m not sure I heard one in arguments. The proponents had their chance in Judge Walker’s court room. And whether they blew it or not, they had their chance. Appealling that decision is a privilege in the 9th and at the SCOTUS, which not everyone gets anyway. So I’m not sure they’ve got the goods to award standing.

  • 50. Ed  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:17 am

    OT, but DADT legislative repeal might be dead…..(and its painfully obvious that McCain wants it that way). Well, good job guys, lets do it how ya’ll didn’t wanna do it, through the courts. Your ploy to keep it in place might just blow up in your face. Good job McCain……

    • 51. Chris From CO  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

      Not yet, dems are still pushing it. And they are taking up the dream act today. It’s still possible.

    • 52. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Actually, Ed, the vote for repeal is very possibly going to be tonight!

  • 53. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:19 am

    All of this Activist Judge nonsense from NOM is just going to backfire right in their hatred-faces.

    • 54. Ed  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:27 am

      agreed, and i’m glad we didnt call for a recusal from judge smith

      • 55. Kate  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

        Verily! Judge Smith was the biggest surprise of the day.

        • 56. Ed  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:33 am

          very much so. seems hes able to differentiate his religion from law…..

          • 57. Kate  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:43 am

            Might the LDS church even excommunicate him for this? Sheryl, Santa Barbara Mom and other Mormons, what’s your insight?

          • 58. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

            Wonder what he would charge the NOMbies for lessons in that skill?

  • 59. Dalow  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:46 am

    There is a very helpful Letter to the Editor in this morning’s LA Times:

    Lawyerly couples

    Re “The Prop. 8 show,” Editorial, Dec. 6

    I’ve sat on the ACLU of Southern California’s board of directors, the one at whose discretion Ramona Ripston serves. I rarely participated in a unanimous vote. I’d like to meet the couple that’s joined at the brain stem, as those calling for U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s recusal from the Proposition 8 case seem to think of him and his wife Ripston.

    My mother and her people were rock-ribbed Republicans going back to the Civil War. In fact, if their farm had been in the next county over, it would have been in one that seceded from Alabama when that state seceded from the Union. My father, on the other hand, was a Roosevelt Democrat who refused to pay my mother’s poll tax because she never would tell him how she was going to vote.

    That a spouse’s expressed opinion on an issue to be addressed by a jurist should cause said jurist to recuse himself seems ridiculous.

    Ronald Webster

    Long Beach

  • 60. MJFargo  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:17 am

    And G-d bless Judge Reinhardt…. His demeaner on the bench (as were all the Judges on the panel) exemplary towards the issues and those who appeared before them (well, the guy from Imperial County raised some hackles, but that was deserved).

    • 61. Carol  |  December 8, 2010 at 9:51 am

      … deserved because he totally disrespected the court by showing up unprepared. He didn’t even know if his client Not-Dolores was elected or appointed.

      “Where is Dolores?” “Uh, I don’t know.”

    • 62. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      Yes it was. BTW, just to find out from everybody, a little opinion poll:

      Who, in your honest opinion, was the lesser prepared and the more aggravating–Cooper, or Tyler?

      • 63. Lesbians Love Boies  |  December 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm

        By far, for me, Cooper was the most aggravating – I dislike ‘ums’.

      • 64. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

        Cooper was more aggravating, Tyler was less prepared.

        Tyler was so unprepared he probably went home and locked himself in his bedroom and cried himself to sleep.

        Seriously, he had his clock cleaned for him by the judges.

  • 65. Jon  |  December 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Outstanding research. What the record shows is the guy applies the law even when he’d prefer a different outcome, and in particular when the specific outcome he’d prefer is first class citizenship for gays. There’s nothing here to criticize, deplore, or cry foul over. There’s nothing that renders him unable to decide the question before him now. This is as fair as it gets. Crybabies, get over it.

    • 66. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      I, too, wish NOM and all the rest of the crybabies would just get over it. But this will be the one time they actually read one of Judge Reinhart’s rulings and his comments (or whatever the legal term is–Ann, Kathleen, Trish, Carpool Cookie, can one of you help me out with that one?) becaue they would take what is quoted above and misuse that to “prove” that Judge Reinhart is biased because even though he dissented, he stated that he did not want to dissent.

      • 67. Ann S.  |  December 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

        I think the word you’re looking for is “opinion”.

        • 68. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

          Thanks, Ann. I knew one of our legal eagles would have the term for me.

  • 69. Josh  |  December 10, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Side note here: LA Police Chief Ed Davis is surprised and unhappy to find men behaving aggressively physical with each other? What do you expect? Oh, I see, it’s just a problem when it’s gay sexual behavior. Dear Ed Davis: F. U.


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