Friday, July 10, 2009

Norwood v. Vance (9th Cir. - July 9, 2009)

Chief Judge Kozinski is sometimes the swing vote in close civil liberties cases. So in this case, in which the other panel members are Judge Callahan and Thomas, it's not entirely surprising to discover that the party who wins Kozinski is the party who wins.

But just because you're sometimes a swing vote doesn't mean you're a moderate. This Kozinski opinion could have just as easily been written by Judge Callahan. "We don't care that the jury found in your favor. We don't care that you've been in almost constant lockdown for almost two straight years. We don't even care that the government entirely waived any immunity defense below. We're still finding in its favor on that point, and reversing the judgment. Because guess what: locking people down interminably does indeed reduce prison violence, as you can't attack someone in the yard if no one's ever in the yard. So there. Deference deference deference."

For what it's worth, Judge Thomas dissents. But the other two get the tango on this one.