This is wrong. All wrong. My head hurts. But I will leave it up as a monument to incomprehension.
Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit threw the latest punch in its three-year confused and confusing fistfight with itself, reversing prior rulings about a Florida law prohibiting doctors from pestering patients about gun ownership.
I wrote about an earlier iteration of this case back in December 2015. The Eleventh Circuit has now produced five different rulings addressing constitutional challenges to the law. Notice I say five rulings, not five opinions. That's because today's Eleventh Circuit ruling has two separate majority opinions, which quite honestly until today I did not realize was a thing. The en banc ruling — that is, a ruling by all the judges of the Circuit [or in the Ninth Circuit, 11 of them], rather than a typical three-judge panel — also includes two different judges named Pryor and two different judges named Carnes, because why the fuck not? A footnote on the first page of the ruling struggles, heroically but unsuccessfully, to straighten this out.
The difference between the two majority opinions is this: the first opinion (by judge Jordan) says that three of four parts of the Florida law are unconstitutional but the fourth part — an anti-harassment provision — is constitutional. The second opinion, by Judge Marcus, says that the anti-harassment portion of the law is also unconstitutional because it is too vague. Judges Hull, Martin, Jordan, Rosenbaum, and Jill Pryor (not to be confused with William Pryor) seem to have signed onto both, even though they contradict each other as to the anti-harassment provision. They have done so even though judges are perfectly able to sign onto only parts of an opinion, so as not to contradict themselves. The anti-harassment provision now exists like Schrödinger's cat constitutional and not constitutional at the same time until somewhat figures out what the hell is going on here.
Perhaps I am missing something. It's happened before. Maybe someone smarter will figure it out.
I am going to go lie down now.
Edited to add: No, I have gotten this all wrong, in ways I am still not completely following. So DISREGARD EVERYTHING. But I will leave it up as a monument to my own inadequacies.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- No, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Shouldn't Sue Over "Fake News" - February 20th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: The Eleventh Circuit Protects Doctors' Right To Ask About Guns - February 17th, 2017
- Eleventh Circuit Revisits Florida Law Banning Doctors From Asking About Guns, And I Can't Even - February 16th, 2017
- Erdoğan and the European View of Free Speech - February 10th, 2017
- Still Annoying After All These Years: A Petty Government Story - February 9th, 2017