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Planned Parenthood ruling snuffed

Just hours ago we reported that a Texas judge yesterday issued a preliminary injunction preventing cutoff of women’s health funds to Planned Parenthood. But hey, this is Texas we’re talking about. Today another judge, this one an outspoken Barack Obama foe, weighed in. Here’s what happens when a yahoo judge doesn’t even pretend to be nonpartisan:

Last month, Republican Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Smith pitched a tantrum in open court, demanding that the Department of Justice respond to some imprecise political rhetoric by President Obama in an attempt to embarrass the president. Today, the staunch Republican judge raised further doubt about his ability to separate politics from the law by suspending a decision benefiting Planned Parenthood just hours after it was handed down by [Judge Lee Yeakel]…

Several things are significant about this very brief order. First, Judge Smith is a court of appeals judge, and it is very rare for an appeals judge to act alone in this way. Federal appeals courts almost always act as three judge panels, and for very good reason. Judge Yeakel is no less a federal judge than Judge Smith, and he is no less competent that Smith to interpret the Constitution. A court of appeals’ legitimacy generally flows from the fact that it brings more minds to a legal question than a trial court — but this cannot happen when a single judge acts alone…

… More importantly, it’s unlikely that Smith gave his order much thought at all before handing it down. Judge Yeakel handed down his order weeks after this case was filed, and he produced a 24 page explanation of why it was justified. Smith spent, at most, a few hours — and he offered no explanation whatsoever.

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