Right-Wing Coalition Alleges Conspiracy in Selection of Judges in Same-Sex Marriage Rulings

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A right-wing coalition is making an "unusual accusation," according to The New York Times, in its criticism of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which lifted Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage.

The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage is claiming that the panel is too liberal for its taste. According to a brief filed by the coalition, the panel "was not the result of a random or otherwise neutral selection process." However, the coalition doesn't mention if it would argue against a ruling that would land in its favor.

Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, which represents plaintiffs in Nevada (which was also impacted by the 9th Circuit ruling), calls the coalition's posturing a "conspiracy theory that is more believable as the plot to a Grisham novel than a credible legal argument substantiated  by evidence."

“Holding a losing hand does not mean that the deck has been stacked,” Renn told the Times.

But the coalition insists that "something is amiss," pointing to 11 gay rights cases before the 9th Circuit since 2010, where Judge Marsha Berzon sat on five of them and Judge Stephen Reinhardt on four.

Monte Neil Stewart, a lawyer for the coalition, told the Times that “the legal test here is one of appearance” and that “the appearance of panel-packing in the Nevada and Idaho marriage cases is strong.”

Cathy Catterson, the 9th Circuit's top administrator, said the panels were created at random and are chosen long before any cases are assigned to the panels.

“We just literally sent out the panel assignments for all of 2015,” she said last week. “They have no idea what cases they’re getting.”