the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit are always a treat for
University of Washington law students, but the April 6 Seattle appearance
attracted a larger crowd than normal. The three-judge panel, consisting of
Senior Circuit Judge William Canby Jr. and circuit judges Johnnie Rawlinson and
Richard Tallman, heard oral arguments in four cases, including the highly
publicized Santiago v. Rumsfeld.
The case deals with the Pentagon’s controversial ‘stop-loss’ policy, which
has extended the service times of approximately 50,000 soldiers beyond the
discharge dates of their original contracts. Emilio Santiago, a 26-year-old
member of the Oregon National Guard, was supposed to finish his eight-year
commitment in June 2004, when the military informed him that his contract -
about to expire in two weeks - had been extended to 2031. A crowd of
poster-waving supporters and reporters followed Santiago and his family to the
terrace for interviews. In a speedy ruling, the panel upheld a District Court's
decision denying the soldier’s request to delay his deployment to Afghanistan.
The judges also heard arguments in a local Everett, Wash. case, Doe v. United
States, regarding a U.S. Navy wife's fight to have the military pay for an abortion
of her anencephalic fetus. Anencephaly is a fatal birth defect, where the fetal
a forebrain, cerebellum and cranium are missing. A U.S. District Court ruled two
years ago, that the military’s medical system Tricare must pay for the abortion.
The Justice Department is asking the court to reverse that ruling.
Two additional cases were also on the docket: United States v. Marquez, a
warrantless search at the airport, and Ebert v. Braddock, a challenge to
Washington state’s alleged underfunding of a state entitlement program. While
observers in the Toni Rembe Appellate Courtroom adhered to proper courtroom
decorum, the almost 200 people assembled in the Magnuson/Jackson Courtroom next
door, freely expressed their thoughts. Judge Canby’s comment “It’s been a bad
day for recruiting generally” in response to the Justice Department attorney’s
statement that taxpayers should not pay for abortions in cases of anencephaly,
elicited laughter, cheers and applause. For media coverage about the court’s
visit to the UW School of Law, please check our media archive.