Reporting on the breaking news that an Arizona federal district judge had blocked parts of a controversial Arizona immigration law, Fox News Supreme Court reporter Shannon Bream stated that an appeal of the case "will go to the Ninth Circuit, which is viewed widely as the most liberal circuit out there. It is also the most overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. So a loss there is not necessarily an overall loss." In fact, the Ninth Circuit was nowhere near the most overturned federal appeals court last year and has not been the most overturned court in many years.
Peter Johnson Jr., also a Fox News legal analyst, discussed the case with Bream but never corrected her statement.
This attack on the Ninth Circuit is a favorite talking point of conservative media figures, but it's dead wrong. Indeed, according to SCOTUSblog.com, in the last Supreme Court term -- from October 2009 - June 2010 -- seven of the 13 appellate courts had a higher reversal rate than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The seven circuits with a higher rate were the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eight, and Eleventh Circuits. And the five circuits had a lower reversal rate: the First, Third, Tenth, D.C., and Federal Circuits.
The Ninth Circuit also hasn't had the highest reversal rate in recent years. (See SCOTUSblog statistics for the terms beginning October 2008, October 2007, October 2006, October 2005 and our previous summary of circuit statistics from October 2001 - June 2005 for the data.)