On the November 3 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is "the most reversed circuit court of appeals in the country." Limbaugh assailed a recent ruling by the court, which found that the Palmdale, California, school district, in administering a psychological survey containing questions on sexuality and masturbation to elementary school students, did not violate parents' privacy rights or their right to control their children's upbringing. Limbaugh stated that the ruling would "probably end up being one of the many such cases [decided by the 9th Circuit Court] that eventually get overturned [on appeal]." But in recent years, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' reversal rate has been approximately equal to the average reversal rate for circuit courts nationally, and during its most recent term, the court's reversal rate was below the national average.
During the 2003-2004 term, the Supreme Court reversed 76 percent of the cases that it chose to hear from appeals of 9th Circuit decisions, compared to a 77-percent average reversal rate for all circuit courts nationally. During the 2002-2003 term, the court's reversal rate was 75 percent, compared to a 73-percent average reversal rate nationally; and during the 2001-2002 term, the 9th Circuit's 76-percent reversal rate was roughly the same as the national average of 75 percent. In previous years, the 9th Circuit Court's reversal rate had exceeded the national average, most notably during the 1996-1997 term, when the court's 95-percent reversal rate far exceeded the national average of 71 percent and "earned the Western circuit [the 9th Circuit] its reputation as the nation's 'most reversed,' " according to a July 3, 2004, Sacramento Bee article.
Media Matters for America has previously noted attempts by Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and national chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, to dismiss the 9th Circuit Court as a left-leaning court that "[gets its] rulings overturned almost every time." Falwell also called for "doing away" with the 9th Circuit Court, an apparent reference to attempts by Republican lawmakers to split up the 9th Circuit.
From the November 3 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: They [the 9th Circuit Court] dismissed a lawsuit by elementary school parents who were outraged that the Palmdale School District had surveyed students about sex. Now, Palmdale is down in Southern California. It's where the B-2 bomber was built, by the way, and maybe still is. Well, the surveys asked students how often they thought about sex, among other questions. The 9th Circus [sic] said that parents of public school children have "no fundamental right" to be the exclusive provider of sexual information in their children.
The parents maintain that they have the sole right to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex. Now, you tell me we don't need judicial reform in this country, when the 9th Circus [sic] Court of Appeals gets -- you tell me -- oh, you pro-choicers out there, "Government, stay out of our bedroom. Hey, government, stay out of our private lives. Government, stay out of these." Well, the government can clearly educate your child on sex now, and you, as parent, do not hold that exclusive right according to the U.S. 9th Circus [sic] Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Just -- it's just -- it's hilarious out there, folks. Sometimes, you just -- all you can do is sit back and laugh. Now, will this go to the U.S. Supreme Court? I don't know, but if it does, it'll probably end up being one of the many such cases that eventually get overturned, overruled. The 9th Circus [sic], the most reversed circuit court of appeals in the country.