courtroom drama

Federal Health Benefits Judge Kozinski: OPM Can Go Screw Itself

Judge Alex Kozinski

Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Alex Kozinski, who just ruled to allow television cameras inside federal civil trials like Perry V. Schwarzenegger, is not. having. it. with the Office of Personnel Management, which just announced it would not try to force Blue Cross to grant same-sex health benefits to federal employee Karen Golinski’s partner Amy Cunninghis (pictured, below). OPM cites DOMA, Kozinski cites federal equal opportunity workplace mandates. And in the twosome’s on-going power struggle, it’s Judge Kozinski that just dealt a new blow: OPM and the feds can stay the hell out of his courtroom.

Pissed that OPM, rather than file an official appeal with his court, announced its Friday “No” decision via press release, Kozinski has now barred OPM from attending a hearing on the Golinski matter, relays the blog Back2Stonewall.

Except, did OPM even have to officially appeal? As WaPo‘s Joe Davidson notes:

In addition to a responsibility to enforce the law, administration officials say they are within their rights to ignore the judge’s order because, they reason, he issued it in his capacity as the court’s boss, not in his role as a judge. The judge’s decision was not issued as a formal court order because Golinski’s complaint went through the court’s administrative Employee Dispute Resolution Plan, rather than a judicial process.


And here we are again, with Kozinski — one of the judiciary’s most colorful personalities — saying his decision holds the most weight, and OPM saying that because Kozinski acted as an administrator and not a judge, they don’t have to listen.

So why not, uh, have Golinski re-file her complaint in the Ninth Circuit immediately? Sure, that means OPM has another timeline (30 days?) to respond, but this battle isn’t even close to over, and at least it knocks down one of the Obama administration’s arguments. For which they keep that ace up their sleeve: The Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama hates so much he’s doing nothing about it.

Whatever. Just make sure there are camera rolling, people!