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amul thapar Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM)

A federal appellate court’s rare decision to leapfrog a three-judge panel and hear an abortion challenge by the full court exposed a sharp division on the bench and provoked an accusation of “procedural hopscotch.”

“Appellants have unabashedly sought to avoid panel review of the merits in a case involving a controversial issue because they dislike its panel’s composition and the panel’s resolution of the stay motion,” wrote Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in dissent. “In endorsing this game of procedural hopscotch, a majority of the en banc court has embarked on an unsettling course.”

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Marcia Coyle

Marcia Coyle, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @MarciaCoyle

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