Federal Prop 8 Trial | Gay Marriage | News | Proposition 8 | Vaughn Walker

BREAKING: Motion to Vacate Prop 8 Ruling Over Judge Walker's Sexuality is Denied

A federal judge has denied Prop 8 proponents' frivolous motion to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling in the Prop 8 case over Walker's sexuality. 

Read Judge James Ware's ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...

Walker Prop 8 proponents filed the motion in April to vacate the ruling overturning California's ban on same-sex marriage, saying that the judge's recent statements that he is gay mean he should have recused himself from the case, and give them grounds to appeal.

Walker came out publicly for the first time in early April.

At the time, Walker said he would never think of recusing himself from a case over his sexuality:

Walker, who retired from the bench at the end of February, said it would not be appropriate for any judge's sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to stop them from presiding over a case.

"That's a very slippery slope," Walker said.

Writes Ware in the ruling:

After considering the Oppositions to the Motion and the governing law, as discussed below, the Court finds that neither recusal nor disqualification was required based on the asserted grounds. The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section 455(b)(4). Further, under Section 455(a), it is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings. Accordingly, the Motion to Vacate Judgment on the sole ground of Judge Walker’s same-sex relationship is DENIED.

Ware writes in the ruling that "it is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision," adding that "no personal bias or reasonable doubt about the judge’s impartiality exists in these circumstances."

Equal protection and due process benefit all society, not just minorities, Ware writes, and "all Californians have an equal interest in the outcome of the case." ... "The single characteristic that Judge Walker shares with the Plaintiffs ... gave him no greater interest in a proper decision on the merits."

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn applauded the ruling: "The court decisively rejected an outrageous attack on the integrity of Judge Walker, not to mention judges in general. The motion was a sideshow designed to deflect attention from the fact that the proponents had every chance to prove that Prop 8 was constitutional, but could not do so. Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional because it is unconstitutional - not because the judge is gay."

Our legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman wrote his take on the motion back in April. Read it here.

Read the ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. ha!

    Posted by: alguien | Jun 14, 2011 4:34:26 PM

  2. Lol ha ha

    Posted by: Alex | Jun 14, 2011 4:36:28 PM

  3. This only makes logical sense. If we had to recuse everyone whose lives would be affected by the Prop. 8 ruling, we'd have to rule out all gay judges, but all heterosexual ones as well, since allowing gays to marry will redefine the "traditional" definition of marriage, the institution to which they do or can belong.

    Even children would have to be recused since they are a fundamental component in the "family unit" that the Pro-8s are so desperate to preserve with their definition of marriage.

    So then, who's left?

    Posted by: Austin | Jun 14, 2011 4:36:56 PM

  4. Woo Hoo, this is awesome!! Now what happens?

    Posted by: RONTEX | Jun 14, 2011 4:41:22 PM

  5. All judges should be albino eunuchs.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 14, 2011 4:41:54 PM

  6. HUZZAH! This is a BIG step in the right direction. I'd say I wish Harvey could see this, but I expect he can (and might even be playing a heavenly hand in the developments ;-) . . .

    Posted by: Susan | Jun 14, 2011 4:43:30 PM

  7. Does anyone know when they will rule on whether or not the videos of the trial can be made public? I read the transcripts, and it's obvious that the Prop-8 supporters don't want them shown because they demonstrate the weakness and laughable nature of their arguments from a legal perspective. This farrago needs to be seen by people. It will provide excellent fodder for defeating the anti-gay bigots.

    Posted by: Abel | Jun 14, 2011 4:44:26 PM

  8. Tearing down another brick in the wall of inequality. BUT-don't celebrate too much -if Obama looses to any of these Rethugs who are currently washing the feet of the radical religious right -we'll suffer thru decades of right wing judges and homophobes being appointed to all levels of government . The 2012 election is the bigger fight!!! Rejoice in this victory but get ready for the upcoming battle of our lives

    Posted by: slippy | Jun 14, 2011 4:45:39 PM

  9. Good news, and 100% right, Slippy. We have to fight even harder and continue educating the masses now that we're making gains so we don't lose them and see any backlash.

    Posted by: Francis | Jun 14, 2011 4:47:22 PM

  10. The lawyers who brought this motion should be sanctioned, at the very least. What a
    f-%$#@-ing waste of time, money and braincells. THEY should recuse themselves!

    Posted by: irisgirl | Jun 14, 2011 4:59:07 PM

  11. So - what happens now ??

    Posted by: Tre | Jun 14, 2011 5:06:16 PM

  12. @ABEL--The Judge stated yesterday that the videos were a gift given to Judge Walker by him and the court so that he didnt see fit to have them given back to the court. The Prop 8 proceeding was the last one judge Walker heard before retiring. The videos were a retirement gift.

    Posted by: TIM | Jun 14, 2011 5:11:47 PM

  13. @ Slippy and Francis..."And so it begins, the great battle of our time". Gandalf
    This will be one of my families greatest battles in my lifetime and I refuse to sit on the sidelines and pout this election.

    Posted by: RONTEX | Jun 14, 2011 5:18:45 PM

  14. "What happens now" is that the Appeals Court is still waiting on the Calif Supreme Court to issue a ruling on standing.

    This was just a side run around the normal appeals process. It's great that it failed but doesn't really effect the appeal.

    Posted by: Tom | Jun 14, 2011 5:27:50 PM

  15. Holla! This truly would be a slippery slope if they had decided otherwise. Thank goodness there are still sane people in the judicial system.

    Posted by: AlterPride Project | Jun 14, 2011 5:36:46 PM

  16. I think we all saw this coming from a mile away.

    Posted by: Bernie | Jun 14, 2011 5:55:51 PM

  17. New York will (most likely) grant same-sex marriage before California does. We're still waiting for the CA Supreme Court to rule that Judge Walker's ruling is correct. Once that happens, expected before this year is out, then the Anti-same-sex forces will appeal to the United States Supreme Court and that means a final nation-wide ruling won't take place before 2013 or 2014.

    Many in the California grass roots gay community want another ballot measure be voted on that would grant same-sex marriage believing attitudes have changed in favor of same-sex marriage and would pass. Those in control of CA gay organizations are against another vote fearing another loss.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Jun 14, 2011 5:57:27 PM

  18. @Tim, thanks for the info! The videos should be publicly released. The defense's case was shamefully poor. I honestly think I could have better defended Prop 8 and I don't agree with it and I'm not a lawyer. Their case was so pitifully handled that it was embarrassing and showed just how poor their arguments were.

    Already I see that NOM is trying to blacken Judge Ware's name in an attempt to discredit today's ruling. Those assholes.

    Posted by: Abel | Jun 14, 2011 5:58:53 PM

  19. Vote 2012- Think Supreme Court- If anyone thinks the two political parties are anyway equivalent just review the Republican Debate last night in New Hampshire.

    Posted by: PLAINTOM | Jun 14, 2011 6:03:49 PM

  20. anybody know if this ruling is downloadable somewhere as a pdf? i'd like to read offline if possible. downloading via scribd seems to be trying to access my facebook account unnecessarily.

    Posted by: mark | Jun 14, 2011 6:11:17 PM

  21. I can't even believe we still have people who think there's nothing wrong with what what they're doing.

    Does this guy also believe every woman should revoke her own right to vote on women's issues because of room for potential bias?

    Ridiculous - People need to go on with their merry little lives and quit hating so much.

    Posted by: Birdie | Jun 14, 2011 7:40:22 PM

  22. Thank god. A decision favoring the plaintiffs would have set a horrible, horrible precedent.

    Posted by: K | Jun 14, 2011 7:44:12 PM

  23. Haters pulling out the activist judge card in 3...2...1...

    Posted by: Adrian | Jun 14, 2011 8:51:40 PM

  24. I didn't expect a different decision from a judge.

    Posted by: Garst | Jun 14, 2011 10:02:46 PM

  25. @ABEL: The plaintiffs' motion to have the protective order lifted and the trial recordings made public will be considered at a hearing scheduled for Monday, August 29.

    Posted by: Jeff Tabaco | Jun 14, 2011 10:05:06 PM

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