Judge rejects motion to vacate Prop 8 ruling

Posted on 14 Jun 2011 at 3:49pm
Judge Vaughn Walker

A federal judge today upheld a ruling declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, rejecting a motion to vacate the ruling on the grounds that the judge who issued it is gay.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware handed down his decision this afternoon after hearing arguments on the motion Monday. Ware denied the motion from supporters of California’s same-sex marriage ban, who argued that Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself because he’s in a long-term relationship with another man. Walker declared Prop 8 unconstitutional in August.

“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),” Ware wrote in his decision. “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.”

Peter Renn, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal who attended Monday’s hearing, said: “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.”

Read Ware’s full decision here.

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