SUN VALLEY, Idaho — Judge Jay S. Bybee tried to make light of the divergence of views on the law between the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court in the opening session of the circuit’s judicial conference rundown of the recent high court cases.
The 9th Circuit, widely viewed as the most liberal circuit in the United States, in recent years has often found itself the most-reversed circuit by the Supreme Court.
But before Bybee launched into the statistics, he posted a series of photos that he said illustrates the misperceptions on both sides and by other circuits about the 9th Circuit.
Showing a slide of sword-wielding Mongol hordes attacking on horseback across a plain, Bybee said, “This is how we appear to the Supreme Court.”
For a photo of a colorful band of 1960s hippies sprawled across a bus painted in psychedelic colors he said, “But this is how other circuits see us.”
“And this is how other circuits look to us,” he said, for a shot of 1950s Boy Scouts marching in lock step carrying American flags.
The 9th Circuit is also the frequent object of numerous unsuccessful efforts in Congress to split the court in two.
The perception of the 9th Circuit is that it is a huge, unmanageable court, something like this, said Bybee, posting a 1800s photo of a polygamous family with dozens of members. But he said the 9th Circuit views itself as a much smaller court, “Something like this,” and showed a photo of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, to loud laughter.
Bybee said that in the months after he joined the 9th Circuit five years ago, he told former Chief Judge Mary Schroeder he had been welcomed by a wonderfully collegial court. Schroeder said he would find the personal caring on the court, “much like having 26 spouses.”
Bybee, who is Mormon, said, “I come from a religious tradition that knows how to deal with that.”