Every so often, the editors of the L.A. Times let you know that they’re not completely beyond hope. They do so again today in an editorial titled The 9th Circuit’s deserved slap. The editorial is subtitled “Supreme Court rebuff in murder case points to a recurring problem with the appeals panel,” and it opens with this passage:
CRITICS OF THE U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, such as outgoing California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, are celebrating that liberal-leaning court’s latest rebuff by the Supreme Court. By a 9-0 vote, the justices on Monday overturned a finding by the 9th Circuit in a San Jose case that a convicted murderer had been denied a fair trial because relatives of the victim came to court wearing small buttons bearing the dead man’s photograph.
This page, which strongly opposes capital punishment, is nevertheless glad to see the 9th Circuit’s wrist slapped for improperly applying the law as it is written.
The editors say that the case
might seem like a technical argument between courts, but it points to something more pervasive and troubling: that the 9th Circuit seems predisposed to second-guess state courts, especially in death penalty cases — even to the point of usurping the high court’s role. The 9th Circuit’s image problem is easy grist for conservatives, but it should be troubling to liberals and moderates as well.
I would be more shocked by this if it weren’t for the fact that the paper’s news article on the case was similarly slanted against the Ninth Circuit. My jaw dropped open when I read that article, but it helped lessen the shock of today’s editorial.
If only these sensible moments could become a trend . . .