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Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain
1937 -

Judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (federal), appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. O'Scannlain is distinguished as a conservative in the court when most of his 18 colleagues in the 9th Circuit (nine western states) are decidedly liberal. He is respected for his adherance to the Constitution in making his decisions, and particularly for his rulings against state affirmative action programs.


By allowing any speech the student chooses, [school district] policy neither advances nor inhibits religion. The policy does not mandate or direct that prayers be read, and may or may not result in prayer at all. Even if a prayer is read, the policy does not make this an act of establishment [of religion] by the school district.

May 27, 1998 - from his decision upholding the right of students to decide whether or not prayers would be included in graduation ceremonies
A system which permits one judge to block with a stroke of a pen what 4,736,180 state residents voted to enact as law tests the integrity of our constitutional democracy.

Apr. 1997 - from his decision overturning a lower-court attempt to block the voter-approved California Proposition 209, which restrains racist state-sponsored affirmative action practices
Impediments to preferential treatment do not deny equal protection. It is one thing to say that individuals have equal protection rights against political obstructions to equal treatment; it is quite another to say that individuals have equal protection rights against political obstructions to preferential treatment. While the Constitution protects against obstructions to equal treatment, it erects obstructions to preferential treatment by its own terms.

Apr. 1997 - from his decision overturning a lower-court attempt to block the voter-approved California Proposition 209, which restrains racist state-sponsored affirmative action practices
Where a state denies someone a job, an education or a seat on the bus because of her race or gender, the injury to that individual is clear... no one contends that individuals have a constitutional right to preferential treatment.

Apr. 1997 - from his decision overturning a lower-court attempt to block the voter-approved California Proposition 209, which restrains racist state-sponsored affirmative action practices
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

Apr. 1997 - quoting California's Proposition 209 in his decision to uphold it after a District Court judge tried to block the voter-approved ban on state affirmative action programs