9th Circuit oral argument challenging the City of Tucson’s election system


Back in April I posted that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear en banc appeal of Tucson elections case.

On Tuesday, the en banc panel of the 9th Circuit heard oral argument. You can Watch the Argument for Public Integrity Alliance, Inc v. City of Tucson, No. 15-16142. (I do not currently find a written  transcript.)

Screenshot from 2016-06-22 13:12:05

The en banc panel included Judges

The video above bears no resemblance to the reporting in the Arizona Daily Star this morning, which reads like a press release from Kory Langhofer, the GOP attorney representing Public Integrity Alliance, Inc. Challenge to Tucson’s election system heard in 9th Circuit. That reporting is entirely misleading.

Langhofer barely got into his argument before the judges on the panel started taking his argument apart with deeply skeptical questioning. After stumbling and fumbling, the judges pointed out to Langhofer that his argument was inconsistent regarding Tucson’s “staggered’ elections — first it was his argument, then Langhofer said it wasn’t his argument. Some of the judges even tried to help him out by reframing his argument for him, and asking “is that what you meant”?

Judge: “I’m trying to figure out why you care? I doubt it’s the abstract arguments you are making.”

Judge: “I don’t see what’s wrong with Tucson’s system,” after reflecting on Hawaii having a similar system. “The cases really don’t take you down the road” to what you arguing.

City Attorney Dennis McGloughlin had a much easier time. The judges’ few questions to the city attorney were not hostile to his argument, but rather asked him to elaborate on his points, always a good sign.

On rebuttal, Langhofer again faced deeply skeptical questioning attacking his arguments.

It’s always a dangerous bet to make predictions from oral argument, but after watching this hearing, it seems clear to me that the City of Tucson stands a very good chance of winning this en banc appeal in the Ninth Circuit.