Friday, November 02, 2007

Skaff v. Meridian North America Beverly Hills (9th Cir. - Nov. 1, 2007)

Sometimes even a single line in the middle of a lengthy opinion can stand out and strike me as obviously -- and dangerously -- wrong.

Like here.

The per curiam opinion (joined only by Judges Ferris and Gould) says a lot of things I agree with. And many of the sentiments that it articulates make sense.

But, on page 14345, after a lengthy review of the principle of de minimus non curat lex ("the law cares not for trifles"), the panel concludes that a mere trifle -- e.g., here, an hour-long delay for diability accomodations -- "is too trifling of an injury to support constitutional standing."

Wrong. Clearly wrong. At least in my view.

I agree that the law doesn't provide a remedy for trifles. And I might even agree that, in an appropriate case, an injury that was merely a trifle might not be sufficient for prudential standing.

But I stridently disagree that an alleged "trifle" is insufficient to support constitutional standing. If Congress wants to make a 1-hour delay cognizable, it can clearly do so under Article III. Even if individual members of the judiciary may perhaps view such a delay as minimal. This is true for a plethora of different reasons, none of which require full explication. Just trust me on this one instead. De minimus non curat lex isn't an Article III principle. It's a doctrine about common law remedies. It doesn't divest a court of constitutional standing. (Judge Duffy, sitting by designation, makes a similar mistake in his dissent, but it's both less obvious and less relevant to his basic point.)

So please, please, please, Judges Ferris and Gould. I know the opinion doesn't have your name expressly on it. But please take that one word out. It'll be an infinitely better opinion as a result.