Stephen Reinhardt and Dorothy Nelson have been simpatico on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for 30 years. One former Reinhardt clerk says they have a good personal relationship.

But Nelson handed Reinhardt a bitter defeat by siding with conservative Judge Carlos Bea in an opinion upholding the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ruling, handed down Thursday, is the latest episode in a case that has brought scorn on the 9th Circuit from across the country, and has highlighted Reinhardt as an unapologetic — yet increasingly solitary — iconoclast.

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