2012 Election | California | News | Proposition 8 | Vaughn Walker

Prop 8 Supporters Again Try To Boot Judge Vaughn Walker

VaughnWalkerMan, oh man! Those anti-gay Proposition 8 activists just won't quit trying to discredit Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that the ballot measure goes against the constitution.

Yesterday, before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, an attorney for the marriage ban's backers again argued that Walker should have recused himself because he's gay.

"[Walker] knew that he, too, like the plaintiffs, was a gay resident of California who was involved in a long-term, serious relationship with an individual of the same sex," said the group's lawyer, Charles Cooper. "The litigants did not have any knowledge of these facts, and it appears that Judge Walker made the deliberate decision not to disclose these facts.”

The appeals court was not impressed.

Read more, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Washington Post has details of what sounds like a true smack down:

Judge R. Randy Smith, who represents Idaho on the 9th Circuit, interrupted to forcefully ask why a gay judge would be any more obligated to divulge his relationship status and views on matrimony than would a married straight judge who opposes same-sex marriage.

“So a married judge could never hear a divorce?” Smith asked.

“Your honor, I don’t see the difficulty with a married judge hearing a divorce action,” Cooper answered.

Smith replied: “Would he have to disclose, ‘Oh, I’ve been married, and we’ve been married for 24 years and we have a relationship that’s kind of difficult’? That’s what you are arguing here?”

David Boies, the lawyer who fought against Proposition 8, also piled on Cooper, whose logic, he said, was "perverse."
"[Cooper's] perverse logic is that only judges, gay or straight, who have no interest in marrying and the institution of marriage would be the only ones who could hear this case,” said Boies.

The court has yet to reach a decision on Walker's role, but it sounds like they're either going to rule against the anti-gay activists or send the entire case to the Supreme Court, which means, of course, that marriage equality will be thrust into the presidential campaign.

Think all this added pressure will help President Obama "evolve" on gay marriage, or will he simply offer soft support, lest he lose more centrist or independent voters?

Ruth Marcus thinks he'll become more of an activist this go-round, simply because supporting gay marriage is no longer "political poison." In fact, it may be a strength.

In a memorandum to Democratic consultants and campaign managers, gay rights advocates argue that backing same-sex marriage is not the political poison it was in years past. Indeed, they contend, it could be a political boon — not only with Democrats but with independent voters, some 56 percent of whom approve of same-sex marriage.

Their data? Analysis by Joel Benenson, Obama’s pollster, and Jan van Lohuizen, who served that role for George W. Bush.

“What was once used as a wedge by Republicans to turn out conservatives and put Democrats on the defensive may now have the opposite effect, as growing numbers of voters across the board support the freedom to marry,” says the memo, written by Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway and Evan Wolfson president of Freedom to Marry.

Let's hope Obama sees the light, too.

In the meantime, our very own Ari Waldman will have a thorough legal analysis of this hearing later this afternoon. Stay tuned!

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  1. By that logic, every straight judge who's ever called to hear a case involving hetero divorce or marriage, every black judge hearing a case involving blacks, every white judge ......

    So damned silly.

    If Walker's ruling had been biased or baseless, Prop 8 proponents would've been able to put together a viable appeal by now. I guess "silly" is the only leg they have to stand on.

    Posted by: sparks | Dec 9, 2011 8:09:45 AM

  2. I think young voters are the Democratic party bloc that would be most influenced by the President taking a firmer stand on LGBT rights. Obama enjoyed great support from the youth vote in the last election and it is not clear that they will be so supportive this time around. And while this might endanger Obama among older voters, it is the Republican stance on senior benefits that will keep them in the fold.

    Posted by: Charlie | Dec 9, 2011 8:12:34 AM

  3. Legal point: The Ninth Circuit doesn't "send the entire case to the Supreme Court." The losing party in the case may appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has complete discretion to accept the appeal or not.

    Posted by: Paul | Dec 9, 2011 8:42:43 AM

  4. Quite true, Paul.

    I hope everyone has actually read Walker's ruling (I'm sure you can find it via "Google") as it's clear, logical and utterly on point. The Prop 8 supporters simply didn't make a case -- because there is none.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Dec 9, 2011 8:47:52 AM

  5. They're lying. Everyone involved in this trial knew that Walker was gay. It's a flat out lie to suggest that they didn't after the fact. They sat on the information knowing they could use it to appeal his ruling if it went against them.

    What should offend everyone here is the implication that only straight, white, males can be impartial while everyone else is biased. Walker went out of his way to cover all the bases and answer all possible objections to his decision. Many commentators have noted that they have never seen a decision so thorough.

    This appeal is nothing but homophobia, much like their claims in the trial.

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Dec 9, 2011 9:13:22 AM

  6. Die. We all will at some point. Just do it ASAP. Thanks.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 9, 2011 9:26:27 AM

  7. The Justice system will ultimately be the big loser in this whole mess.

    The very idea that people were VOTING on the rights of others should have been a non-starter.

    Remember, at the time the Prop 8 vote took place the CA Supreme Court had already unequivocally stated that gay citizens were entitled to equal treatment under the law.

    The removal of rights at a ballot box should automatically disqualify in the Ballot Initiative process.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Dec 9, 2011 10:29:23 AM

  8. They're just grasping at straws (much like they have throughout this case). That's how lawyers think: they don't have to believe their side of an argument, they just have persuade others to believe it.

    Posted by: Mona | Dec 9, 2011 10:39:22 AM

  9. I really do wonder that since the arguments the 'Pro 8' team is so weak, that the Supreme Court will take a pass on hearing it. Maybe if the case is about standing they'll hear it, but not if its about whether gays can marry or not. Am I way off here?

    Posted by: princely54 | Dec 9, 2011 11:11:25 AM

  10. I wonder about the Supreme Court... whether the justices would judge based on the case presented by each side (as all judges are supposed to do) or start from the conclusion they want and make things fit that the best they can.

    Posted by: Hyhybt | Dec 9, 2011 11:39:17 AM

  11. While I agree that his Prop 8 ruling had nothing to do with his personal status, Judge Walker should have disclosed that he was Gay. Handing down a Gay Rights decision from the closet, even if it was a glass closet, was a pathetic act! I'm hoping his cowardice will not undermine this very important piece of jurisprudence.


    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Dec 9, 2011 12:07:04 PM

  12. I guess the stuffed animal in question here is a troll.

    Posted by: Grover Underwood | Dec 9, 2011 12:26:05 PM

  13. Grover you are correct. So funny how they spend so much time here thinking that they actually influence people's thinking. I just find it amusing.

    The SCOTUS is very much into making up law to fit their prejudices so I am not sure how they will rule. A lot depends on how much credibility they are willing to trade to promote their own agenda. Bush v Gore cost them a lot. Citizen's United, where they went out of their way to create a special new class of personhood, pretty much showed how corrupt they really are, so who knows.

    Posted by: Joey | Dec 9, 2011 1:15:53 PM

  14. amen, Grover.

    this is great news for everyone! and for those that want to take a page from the "Years Wasted Fighting the Wrong Battle for the Wrong Stupid Reasons" School of Idiocy, check out thestuffedanimal's page.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 9, 2011 1:25:49 PM

  15. Little Kiwi, to check out overstuffed animal's "blog", is to die a little. Ignorance is indeed plentiful there...

    Posted by: DeeperStill | Dec 10, 2011 4:06:03 AM

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