Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Padilla v. Lever (9th Cir. - Sept. 19, 2006)

What a boring day in the California appellate courts. Only one (snoozer) published opinion by the California Court of Appeal, and only a minor amendment of a prior opinion coming out of the Ninth Circuit. Zzzzzzzz.

On the upside, since I have nothing current to talk about for today, this gives me a chance to go back and write about an opinion from a couple of weeks ago that I didn't have time to mention back then.

Back in November 2005, Judge Pregerson wrote a panel opinion holding that under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, proponents who circulate recall petitions in California are required to provide copies in various other languages (e.g., Spanish) as well as English. Back then, Judge Canby wrote a compelling dissent, but Judge Pregerson's contrary view was persuasive to the senior district court judge (Judge Reed) on the panel. But let me give you a hint: When you can't even get Judge Canby on board in a Voting Rights Act case, your opinion ain't gonna garner that much support. So it was hardly surprising when the case was taken en banc. And even less surprising when the en banc court reversed Judge Pregerson's opinion. In a 14-1 opinion. With -- you guessed it -- only Judge Pregerson himself dissenting.

Not only does Judge Canby join the majority en banc opinion, but even Judge Reinhardt concurs. Again, when you can't get even solid lefties like Judges Canby and Reinhardt, you're pretty much doomed. Sure, the en banc panel was filled with a fair number of conservatives -- indeed, a surprising number. But it wasn't going to matter. That panel opinion was going down either way.

Sometimes, the tea leaves are pretty darn clear. This case was one of them.