Prop. 8 backers: judge’s gay relationship voids ruling
SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After the judge who struck down California’s traditional marriage amendment last August confirmed a long-standing sexual relationship with another man earlier this month, pro-family backers have called for the ruling to be thrown out as clearly biased.
Protect Marriage, the coalition defending California’s Proposition 8, had at first remained silent when Justice Vaughn Walker on April 6 confirmed strong rumors that he was in a homosexual relationship.
Walker, who presided over the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California before retiring last February, said he never considered recusing himself from the case in which he ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional for defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He called it a “slippery slope” to consider a judge’s sexuality a possible source of conflict of interest.
Walker had refused to confirm or deny the rumors of his relationship while the Prop. 8 case was ongoing.
Pro-family constitutional attorney Matt Barber, the vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, noted in a column earlier this month that his group was among the few to react to the rumors by calling for Vaughn’s recusal. Barber pointed out that Walker would have been directly affected by his ruling against Prop. 8, which would allow him to legally “marry” his partner.
“By manufacturing from thin air a Constitutional ‘right’ to same-sex ‘marriage’ – something the Framers of the U.S. Constitution could not have conceptualized, much less endorsed – Judge Walker abused his position on the bench to create for himself a new privilege that he previously did not possess,” wrote Barber.
In a filing Monday with the judge who took Walker’s place, Protect Marriage lawyers agreed that the judge’s relationship - and not his sexuality - constituted a clear conflict of interest.
“If at any time while this case was pending before him, Chief Judge Walker and his partner determined that they desired, or might desire, to marry, Chief Judge Walker plainly had an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding,” wrote the Protect Marriage lawyers.
“We deeply regret the necessity of this motion. But if the courts are to require others to follow the law, the courts themselves must do so as well,” said Anthony Pugno, Protect Marriage general counsel.
Walker’s ruling is currently being challenged in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.