President Donald Trump’s criticism of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as having a terrible record for being overturned leaves out several crucial facts.
First of all, the judge who blocked Trump’s executive order threatening to cut federal funds to sanctuary cities is not on the 9th Circuit Court. William H. Orrick is a federal district judge based in San Francisco. The 9th Circuit, encompassing nine West Coast states, reviews Orrick’s decisions, but it hasn’t yet.
Next, it’s true that the Supreme Court last term overturned 80 percent of the cases it heard from the 9th Circuit. But that was only 8 reversals out of 10 cases (One additional case was a 4-4 split and so affirmed.) The 9th Circuit decided 11,798 cases in that time span. So the actual rate of reversal was 7 out of every 10,000 cases.
District judges overseen by the 9th Circuit decided 56,605 cases in that time span, about 20% of all cases decided nationwide. So their reversal rate at the Supreme Court is infinitesimal.
The 9th Circuit’s reversal rate is not out of line with its peers. In the past ten years, the 6th Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, has actually had the most reversals at 84%, according to Scotusblog. The 9th Circuit ranked third with 77% reversals, but the average for all circuit courts was 70%.
Finally, despite arguments that the district court judges overseen by the 9th Circuit are unusually liberal, 54% of them there were appointed by Democrats while 46% were appointed by Republicans, according to the Federal Judicial Center.