Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Re Brad Levenson (9th Cir. - Nov. 18, 2009)

You don't see many Ninth Circuit orders/opinions that are actually signed by the author these days. It's typed, or there's a stamp, or whatever. So it's sort of cool to see an actual signature.

Plus, this is an interesting case. Brad Levenson is a deputy public defender, and he's had a same-sex partner for 15 years -- and has been married to him (in California) since 2008. After he got married to Tony, Brad tried to add him to his health insurance, but (predictably) was turned down by the feds, citing DOMA. So then Brad took the matter up with the plan, which -- in something that's not at all usual -- provides for resolution by a circuit judge. In this case, Judge Reinhardt.

Previously, Judge Reinhardt concluded (and still concludes) that Brad and Tony should get their benefits, but the federal government still refused. So now Judge Reinhardt says that he won't order the federal government to buy Tony benefits -- since that'd be forcing a contract on the federal government, which is indeed problematic -- but he will give Brad money to compensate him (and Tony) for what they've been forced to spend on Tony's insurance. Since there's a right here (equal protection) and there should be a remedy as well.

Which ends with Judge Reinhardt's signature. Alongside his statement that he's going to retain jurisdiction to see to it that Brad and Tony not only get their money now, but in the future also. The federal government can do what it wants. But Judge Reinhardt's going to do what he wants as well.