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
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017