Ninth Circuit Panel Ready to Hear Oral Argument in Altera on October 11

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October 9, 2017

As discussed in our prior post, the briefing on the government’s appeal of the Altera decision was completed last January.  The Ninth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral argument in the case in San Francisco this Wednesday afternoon, October 11.

The three-judge panel for the arguments consists of Chief Judge Sidney Thomas, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, and Judge Kathleen O’Malley (of the Federal Circuit, sitting by designation). Judge Thomas was appointed in 1996 by President Clinton, Judge Reinhardt was appointed in 1980 by President Carter, and Judge O’Malley was appointed by President Obama in 2010.  The government is probably particularly happy to see Judge Reinhardt on the panel, as he was the dissenting judge who sided with the government in 2010 in the 2-1 Xilinx decision that set the stage for the new cost-sharing regulations at issue in Altera.  (The Xilinx decision was discussed in this contemporaneous Tax Alert.)  The Ninth Circuit has allocated 20 minutes for each side to present argument, which indicates the court’s recognition of the importance and/or complexity of the case; most cases are set for 10 or 15 minutes per side.

The Ninth Circuit now videotapes its oral arguments, so the argument can be watched on a live stream through a link on the Ninth Circuit’s website. The videotape will also be made available after the fact elsewhere on the court’s website.  The afternoon session begins at 1:30 Pacific time.  Because Altera is the third case scheduled for that session, it is likely that the argument in Altera will not begin before 2:15 Pacific time.