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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The three judges of Perry v. Brown

Last week's landmark decision on marriage equality in California was made by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Much has been written about the legal positions and implications, but less has been said about the judges whose deliberations and opinions grabbed the headlines.

Here is some background information on the three-judge panel.

Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, who authored the decision, was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter.  He was confirmed to the seat on September 11, 1980.  Judge Reinhardt is a graduate of Pomona College (1951) and Yale Law School (1954).  Following law school, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-1956, clerked for Judge Youngdahl of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 1956-1957, and then entered private practice in Los Angeles from 1957-1980.

Judge Michael D. Hawkins, currently holding senior status on the Ninth Circuit, joined Judge Reinhardt’s decision.  He was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and was confirmed by the Senate that same year.  On February 12, 2010, Judge Hawkins assumed senior status.  He received his B.A. from Arizona State University and his J.D. from Arizona State University College of Law.  Upon graduation from law school, he served for three years as a U.S. Marine Corps Special Courts Martial Military Judge.  He then worked in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona from 1973-1976; served as a U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona from 1977-1980; was back in private practice from 1980-1994; and, from 1985-1989, served as a special prosecutor for the Navajo Nation.

Judge N. Randy Smith, who dissented in the case, was nominated on January 16, 2007 to fill a seat on the Ninth Circuit; he was confirmed to the seat on February 15, 2007 and began service the next month.  Judge Smith is a graduate of Brigham Young University and of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University.  After law school, he worked as Associate/Assistant General Counsel for J.R. Simplot Company from 1977-1981; was an adjunct professor at Boise State University from 1979-1981; worked in private practice in Pocatello, Idaho from 1982-1995; and became a district judge for the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho in 1995, serving until his appointment to the Ninth Circuit.  Judge Smith began work as an adjunct professor at Idaho State University in 1984, a position he continues to hold.

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