A legal motion filed Monday questions the impartiality of the judge who overturned the California Marriage Protection Act, also known as Prop. 8. The act, passed by voters in November 2008, amended the state’s constitution to limit the definition of marriage to “one man, one woman.”
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is thought by some to be gay, overturned Prop. 8 in August 2010. The group that filed the motion, ProtectMarriage.com, claims Walker could not have ruled fairly because the law affects his own ability to marry another man. —KDG
The Wall Street Journal:
The brief claimed that Judge Walker is a “judge in his own case” because he has a potential interest in marrying his own partner. Only if Judge Walker “had unequivocally disavowed any interest in marrying his partner could the parties and the public be confident that he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome of the case,” it said.
Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is fighting the ban in court on behalf of two same-sex couples who want to marry, said the proponents of Proposition 8 “are grasping at straws because they have no legal case.” He added: “They’re attacking the judge because they disagree with his decision.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said that no U.S. court had ever ruled that a judge’s personal identity was sufficient reason for disqualification. “I think it is offensive to say that a judge can’t hear this case because he is gay or lesbian,” he said. “By that reasoning, a black judge couldn’t have heard challenges to segregation law.”