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U.S. Ninth Circuit Judges to Discuss: "Governing With the Gavel?"

As confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor proved, the country remains divided on the role and scope of the courts. The Pomona Student Union will present a discussion between Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Stephen Reinhardt ’51, Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, regarding the proper role of judges and courts in a democratic society. This discussion will held at Pomona College on Thursday, November 12 at 8 p.m., in Edmunds Ballroom (Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth Street, Claremont, 91711).

Kozinski and Reinhardt will address some of the following questions: Are judges referees—calling “balls and strikes”—or does interpretation of the law require a more complicated, subjective process? Should empathy play a role in interpreting the law? Do Senate confirmation hearings for judicial nominees provide a substantive, meaningful check on the executive branch? As the Supreme Court prepares to debate and rule on cases ranging from national security policy, to campaign finance law and executive privilege, these questions merit examination.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeal and has a reputation for liberal judicial activism. Since 1993, there have been several proposals introduced in the U.S. Congress to split or otherwise reorganize the Ninth Circuit.

Kozinski earned both his A.B. (1972) and J.D. (1975) from UCLA. He went on to clerk for then-Ninth Circuit Judge Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice Warren Burger. Kozinski's first judicial appointment was as chief judge at the newly formed United States Court of Federal Claims in 1982. Then, at the age of 35, Reagan appointed him to the Ninth Circuit, making him the youngest federal appeals court judge in the country. Kozinski is also an essayist and judicial commentator whose writings have appeared in mainstream publications such as Forbes and Slate.

Reinhardt graduated from Pomona College with an A.B. in Government (1951) and his LL.B. from Yale Law School (1954). After law school, Reinhardt worked at the United States Air Force legal counsel’s office in Washington, D.C., and then clerked for U.S. District Judge Luther Youngdahl, a former governor of Minnesota, in the District of Columbia. Reinhardt served as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, California Advisory Committee (1962-74), serving as Vice Chairman from 1969 to 1974. He has also served as member of the Democratic National Committee; an unpaid advisor to former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and former California Governor Jerry Brown; and on the Los Angeles Police Commission (1975-80), which he chaired from 1978 until his judicial confirmation in 1980.

This event is sponsored by the Pomona Student Union, which was founded by students in 2003 to inspire open dialogue on campus through a series of challenging and intellectually diverse debates and events. For further information, visit:

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.