Splitting 9th Circuit would hurt Hawaii
Conservatives are trying to split the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals into two circuits.
WESTERN STATE conservatives are departing from the normal legislative process in their latest attempt to bolt from the jurisdiction of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
. The ploy would strand Hawaii as a stepchild of California in an appeals court even more liberal and cumbersome than what exists now.
Timber, mining and irrigation interests have been annoyed for years about 9th Circuit rulings that have upheld environmental laws. Conservatives' solution is to carve out a new 12th Circuit of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Arizona. It would leave California, Hawaii and the Pacific islands in the 9th.
Conservatives blasted the 9th Circuit for a ridiculous ruling that it was unconstitutional for schoolchildren to include the words "under God" when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The U.S. House voted 320 to 91 this week to scold the court for a rejection of parents' complaint about a school's survey of first-, third- and fifth-graders about, among other things, how often they think about sex.
House Republicans wanting to break up the 9th Circuit are trying to short-circuit the process by tacking it onto a budget-cutting bill. The tactic is ironic because the amendment would increase the budget. Startup costs for a new circuit are estimated at $100 million and its annual operating costs would total $16 million.
Under the scheme, nearly three-fourths of the caseload but only 60 percent of the judges would remain in the 9th Circuit, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. That would lead to longer delays in appealing cases from Hawaii.
The Bush administration, as part of its current effort to appease its political base, gave its support this week to splitting the 9th Circuit. Opponents might have to rely on the moderation of the Senate, where Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has declared his opposition to the breakup.
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