Updated November 14, 2020 12:20:53 The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has heard arguments in a case that could determine whether the US Supreme Court should decide whether states have the right to pass laws requiring judges to disclose their bias.
Key points:The judges are weighing a question about whether judges are accountable for their actions on behalf of their clientsIn a ruling, the court could set the stage for an era of greater judicial independenceThe US Supreme, however, has a more limited role in the caseJustice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the court, is expected to uphold the constitutionality of the law in the wake of the court’s decision in February.
The case stems from a civil rights case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
The case centers around the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, which is hearing a case brought against the New York Attorney General by the NCLR.
The court ruled in a 4-3 decision in January that the law was unconstitutional, because it did not give judges the power to review state and local laws that were challenged by the rights groups.
The US Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.
In a statement on Tuesday, Justice Kennedy said that the ruling “opens up a Pandora’s box” of potential cases involving judicial restraint.
“The court today said the power of the district court to hold judges accountable to the law they enforce should not be limited to reviewing state and federal laws,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
“For that reason, I agree with the court that it should not disturb its recent decision upholding the constitution of New Mexico’s law requiring judges in civil cases to disclose bias.
The 9th Circuit Court has also heard arguments on whether judges who receive federal funds are accountable to their states.
The court’s two liberals, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, are expected to vote to strike down the law.