Judges can not rule beyond the grave


WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal judges can not rule beyond the grave, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

The High Court said in an unsigned notice that a federal court could not count the vote of a deceased judge in a decision rendered after his death. The judges said that "federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity".

The case before the court concerned Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Reinhardt died on March 29, 2018, but was named as the author of a decision rendered 11 days after his death. A note on the decision stated that Reinhardt, who was 87 when he died, "participated fully in this case" and that his vote, his opinion and the opinions written by other judges were finalized and finalized before his death.

But the Supreme Court stated that it "was not aware of any rule or decision of the ninth circuit rendering the votes and opinions of the judges immutable at any given time before their publication". The judges wrote that "it is generally understood that a judge can change his position until the moment a decision is rendered. "

The court stated that because Reinhardt was no longer a judge at the time of the filing of the decision, "the ninth circuit erred in considering him a member of the majority".

"This practice actually allowed a deceased judge to exercise US judicial power after his death," the judges wrote.

The Supreme Court noted that, without Reinhardt's vote, the majority opinion of which he was the author was only approved by 5 of the 10 panel judges who had heard the case. "Who were still living when the decision was made". The Supreme Court returned the case to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration.

The decision of the Supreme Court is consistent with its own practice, namely that when a judge has voted in a case but dies before a decision is rendered, his vote does not count. This is what happened recently in the case of Judge Antonin Scalia, who had voted in pending cases at the time of his death in 2016.

The Reinhardt case concerned the Federal Equal Pay Act, which generally requires men and women to be paid equally for the same work. The question put to the Ninth Circuit panel was whether, under the law, employers could use previous earnings to justify a disparity in pay. Reinhardt wrote: "On the basis of the text, history and purpose of the Equal Pay Act, the answer is clear: no." Five judges agreed with his reasoning. Five other judges concurred in the result, but not in the opinion written by Reinhardt.

The case involved Fresno County Public School Mathematics Consultant Aileen Rizo, who sued after learning she was earning less than her male colleagues. Rizo challenged the school system policy, which based all new employees' salaries on their previous salaries. The school system argued that politics did not favor men or women. Politics has since changed.


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