The Supreme Court on Monday ruled a decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals no longer stood because the decision was made after a progressive judge on the court died.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt's vote was counted in a case involving an equal pay lawsuit a California teacher filed. According to NBC News, "Reinhardt wrote an opinion for the full appeals court, but it wasn't announced until 11 days after his death. A footnote at the beginning of the appeals court decision said that Reinhardt "fully participated in this case and authored this opinion" and noted that voting by the judges was completed before he died."
The high court's decision was "per curiam” meaning “for the Court." These types of decisions are unsigned.
According to the Supreme Court, “federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity. The upshot is that Judge Reinhardt’s vote made a difference. Was that lawful?”
The justices said it was unlawful.
"Because Judge Reinhardt was no longer a judge at the time when the en banc decision in the case was filed, the 9th Circuit erred in counting him as a member of the majority," the Court wrote.
The high court follows the same standard, as evidenced by Justice Antonin Scalia.
"The votes of Justice Antonin Scalia issued after his sudden death three years ago did not count, even though he had participated in a number of argued cases earlier in the court’s term. No decision is official until it is formally released by the court, and every member of the court must be on the bench at the time," Fox News reported.
The case has been sent back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration.
Here's the full decision: