A Master of Judicial Activism Trains an Acolyte

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been refining his craft as a liberal activist judge for 35 years, and in that time has become the indubitable master. For a budding activist judge, there is no better mentor. And in Judge Jon Tigar, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Reinhardt has found the perfect protégé. Tigar, the son of radical lawyer Michael Tigar, graduated from U.C. Berkeley School of Law in 1989, was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court by Democratic governor Gray Davis in 2002, and was then promoted to a life-tenured seat on the federal bench by President Obama in 2013. So far, Tigar’s most notable decision as a federal judge is his April 2, 2015 ruling in Norsworthy v. Beard, in which he ordered the state of California to provide a male transgender prisoner (Jeffrey Norsworthy, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence) a sex-change operation (vaginoplasty) on the ground that such surgery is medically required pursuant to the Eighth Amendment (i.e., that failing to provide “sex reassignment surgery” (SRS) to a prisoner with “gender dysphoria” constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment”).

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