Inside Opinion

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Tag: 9th circuit

Aug.
23rd

Inmate voting: The 9th’s chance for redemption

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, known for dubious and oft-overturned decisions, didn’t enhance its reputation in January when it ordered Washington to give the vote to imprisoned felons.

It’s got a shot at a do-over next month, when 11 of its judges will review the January decision, which was made by a three-judge panel.

If the full court repeats the panel’s blunder, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to step in and reverse the 9th yet again – especially since three other federal appeals courts have reached the opposite conclusion in similar cases.

The case before the 9th was brought by several felons who claimed Washington’s ban on inmate voting violates the federal Voting Rights Act by imprisoning racial minorities at disproportionately high rates. Read more »

Jan.
6th

A right to vote for inmates? Get real, 9th Circuit

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Courtesy of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gary “Green River Killer” Ridgway may soon enjoy the right to vote. And Robert Yates Jr., who also had a nasty habit of murder by the dozen.

And any number of other murderers, rapists and other predators now housed in Washington’s prisons.
That is the absurd result of a 9th Circuit Court panel decision Tuesday that ordered the state to let all inmates vote – on the grounds that some might be imprisoned as part of a pattern of racial discrimination.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna has already announced he will appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. It seems likely the high court will take an interest in it, because three other federal appeals courses have ruled to the contrary in similar cases.

Tuesday’s “Let Ridgway Vote” decision resulted from a long-running lawsuit filed by several Washington felons. Their lawyers persuaded two judges on a three-judge panel that the federal Voting Rights Act should void the Washington Constitution’s prohibition of inmate voting. Nearly every other state enforces a similar prohibition.
Read more »

Dec.
29th

Child abusers win one in the 9th Circuit

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A new federal court decision is creating ripples in the world of child-abuse protection. They aren’t good ripples.

Ruling earlier this month in an Oregon case, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed tight new restrictions on investigations of suspected child abuse – restrictions that tip the balance of power in favor of the suspected abusers.

The judges held that Oregon’s equivalent of Child Protective Services violated the Fourth Amendment when one of its caseworkers and a deputy sheriff took a girl aside at school and asked whether her father had been fondling her. The ruling’s implication is that they should have obtained a warrant – or the permission of her parents – before doing so.

Washington’s Children’s Administration is scrambling to comply with this brand-new and rather astonishing requirement. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist says it will “seriously handicap” investigations. He also points out that it will make it tougher not only to quickly identify child abuse, but also to rule it out. A boy who shows up to school with suspicious bruises may have gotten them from his mother’s live-in boyfriend – or a fall from a tree. It’s important to find out, fast, what’s going on.

Probable cause – which must be established to get a warrant – often can’t be determined before talking to a child. Teachers, for example, frequently develop an acute sixth sense about the possibility of abuse, based on subtle changes in a student’s behavior, eye contact, mood and classroom performance. But try persuading a judge that Billy’s sudden quietness and tendency to look at his shoes is evidence that a crime has been committed.
Read more »