The Ninth Circuit will hear arguments today regarding the potential judicial bias of having a gay judge decide a gay rights case on the merits. Sponsors of the anti-gay Proposition 8 will ask a judge to vacate Judge Vaughn Walker's historic ruling striking down the anti-gay marriage California constitutional amendment. They contend that Walker, who recently announced he is gay, had a conflict of interest since he has a long-time partner and might want to marry. While Walker never "came out" as gay during the case, he also never commented on news stories that published the information.
The San Francisco Examiner reports:
Lawyers for two same-sex couples who challenged Proposition 8 contend the motion is frivolous and at odds with a long line of federal court rulings saying that minority group members and women are not required to disqualify themselves from civil rights cases. The motion is "an utterly baseless attack on the integrity of the judicial system," the attorneys wrote in a response filed last month.
"In fact, proponents' argument is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to disqualify a gay judge based on his sexual orientation," they wrote.
Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who represents the two couples, said at a telephone press conference Friday that disqualifying Walker "would set a dangerous precedent."
"Every person alive has some background or experience that could conceivably arguably affect their attitude in a case," Olson said.
Judge Walker (AP file photo)
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