For Immediate Release

Katja Sipple
University of Washington School of Law


9th Circuit Court of Appeals visit draws crowd to W. H. Gates Hall


Visits by 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.

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