Alex Blaze

Prop 8 Judge Is Gay; He Didn't Have to Recuse Self

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 07, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: judge, marriage, Prop. 8, recuse, vaughn walker

Vaughn Walker, the trial judge during the Prop 8 case, made his first public statement that confirmed that he was gay and had some sensible things to say about when judges should recuse themselves:

Vaughn_Walker_adj.jpgFormer U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired from the bench at the end of February, said it would not be appropriate for any judge's sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to stop them from presiding over a case.

"That's a very slippery slope," Walker said.

The talk to a handful of reporters was Walker's first public comments to reporters about presiding over the lawsuit challenging to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. Walker struck down the ban as unconstitutional, and the case is currently on appeal.

The right's going to love to say that he was biased because of this, but assuming that someone is biased just because of their identity while never holding people of a dominant group to the same standard (if gay marriage threatens straight marriage, then wouldn't straight people be biased too?), just normalizes the dominant group and concedes half the argument for equal protection under the law.

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Is the Judge single? oooh daddy!

Hmmm. If we follow the right wing's thinking, only a gay judge could preside over a straight couple's divorce. A straight judge might have bias against divorces if their own ended badly. Right?

Homophobes believe that Gay human beings aren't human. It only follows, then, that homophobes also believe that a Gay judge couldn't render a str8 decision. Homophobes would remove every Gay judge from the bench, if only they could.

What an absurdity to suggest that a gay judge couldn't uphold the law, but instead would have been instinctually led to rule in favor of an LGBT marriage bill.

I agree, Bil - following the reasoning, black judges couldn't rule on matters concerning black folk, women would have to recuse themselves in any case involving women, and (OH NO!) white men would have to take themselves off the bench for about 99% of the cases that are in court at any given moment.

Silly George, straight, cisgendered white men wouldn't have to recuse themselves! They're infallible and absolutely unbiased, don't you know.

In Vaughn Walker's case, it is not so much that the Clown should have disqualified himself from the case because he is Gay but rather "HOW THE PROP 8 CASE LANDED ON HIS DOCKET" (and him hitting the ground running by immediately trying to get the case televised)

The Prop 8 Lawsuit is "A History of MANIPULATION". What you have with the Prop 8 Lawsuit is ONE GUY who:

2 Formed a special non-profit to fund the lawsuit; (giving the appearance that the lawsuit was some COMMUNITY based initiative);
3 And THEN the guy (we are to assume) was just "lucky" to get his pet lawsuit onto the desk of seemingly "the only Gay Federal Judge in America".

One guy pulling strings, RECRUITED PLAINTIFFs and a Gay Judge were more than enough for conservative groups to eventually demand an investigation into how the Prop 8 Challenge really landed on Vaughn Walker's desk, something Vaughn Walker apparently realized.

Rick Sutton | April 7, 2011 9:47 AM

Retired federal judges have a knack for popping up as "Special Judges" on important cases. He may be around until he dies. They like the pomp.

If Maggie Gallagher and her ilk want to throw water on the judge's ruling because of his sexual orientation...which was no secret...they're really making our case. As noted above.

Give 'em the stage and stand back.

I saw that little weasel Sen. Jeff Sessions on TV last night. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around his potential chairmanship of Senate Judiciary come 1-1-13. The same committee that oversees judicial appointments and court operations. Yikes.

Rick Sutton | April 7, 2011 12:39 PM

Bil: you left the barn door open again, and look what wandered in. Matt.

Really, Matt? Do you have any idea HOW federal judges get "assigned" their cases? Do you really think the Presiding Judge (who was, at the time, the trial judge) actually hand-picks cases for certain courts, and then sends cases to judges who will rule a certain way?

Learn up then repost. Or, not.

Recruiting plaintiffs. That's hucking filarious. I'm sure plaintiff counsels had nothing else to do in their lives. It was far from an open/shut case at the outset.

Doesn't Bilerico have a duty to confirm how the Prop 8 lawsuit came about? It is not like it is a big secret that Chad Griffin formed a special non-profit to fund the Prop 8 lawsuit and that they then RECRUITED PLANTIFFs to front the lawsuit.

"Meanwhile, Griffin had begun discreetly looking around for potential plaintiffs—same-sex couples who wanted to get married in California but hadn’t done so in the six-month window between the state Supreme Court decision and the passing of Proposition 8. The plaintiffs needed to be willing to be the public faces for a court case that could take years to resolve, and that many gay activists considered unwise. It isn’t easy to find the right plaintiffs for a high-profile constitutional case."

Read more

Gray Coyote | April 8, 2011 1:07 AM

You really don't understand how high-profile civil rights lawsuits work.

I urge you to read and watch "The Road to Brown". It is an excellent film about Thurgood Marshall and his teacher, Charles Hamilton Houston. They took down state segregation over a 15 year period of lawsuits and cases, finding plaintiffs who were effected by the pro-segregation statutes, who had the gumption to put their name up to risk. It was the NAACP who funded these cases. Brown was no accident of history. It was carefully crafted and chosen. This is the way civil rights advancements for minorities have been done for decades. Lawrence was a slight fluke, but I couldn't figure a better place to file an appeal because A) Texas Penal Code 21.06 (Homosexual Conduct) was did not have a jail penalty. It was a misdemeanor conviction but only a $500 fine. B) It only applied to gay people. Richard and Mildred Loving of Loving v. Virginia was also a similar situation. Again, sympathetic plaintiffs.

As a person in a federal civil rights action as a plaintiff himself (though the civil right claimed is unrelated to marriage equality except for a right to travel aspect of fundamental rights), I think I have a better understanding of how federal civil rights actions work. When you file a case in district court, a judge is randomly assigned to your case (That's why you saw VRW at the end of the federal case file). If either A) The Chief Judge grabbed the case for himself or B) the judge assigned to the case asks the Chief Judge to take it from him or recusal, it is all on the court record.

Two couples that wanted to get married and were domestically partnered. A white lesbian couple, and two gay men of color (Zerillo, Katami).

My question to you, Matt, do you really understand what you're talking about, or are you just seeing controversy where it doesn't exist, just to make yourself look "cool"?

Research the term "FRAUD ON THE COURT".

I suspect that Chad Griffin, Rob Reiner and Boies are now sh*tting bricks over what "fraud on the court" means.

Who is the aggrieved party seeking relief in Perry? Is it the recruited plaintiffs, the newly created .ORG funding the lawsuit or, is it the individual Chad Griffin? If the party really seeking relief via Perry is in fact the individual Chad Griffin then, it is to say the least, MISLEADING TO THE COURT and the defending party that Griffin did not himself file the lawsuit IN HIS NAME AS THE PLANTIFF.

There is a rather big difference between a long established "community centric organization" like the NAACP "funding sympathetic plaintiffs" for a lawsuit that is part of a nationwide movement by Black People and ...

Some wannabe Harvey Milk and some Actor / Wannabe Governor deciding to invent A LAWSUIT DRAMA by recruiting plaintiffs. And, to give the appearance that they are some community based movement, Wannabe Harvey Milk and Actor / Wannabe Governor create a special nonprofit to fund THEIR SCREENPLAY, i.e., I mean lawsuit.

The Perry Screenplay has gone horribly "off the rails" and, with Vaughn Walter's retirement, there is the hint that Perry could go even further OFF THE RAILs (as in Criminal RICO off the rails).

It is a given that Lawsuits in federal court are ASSIGNED to specific Judges for a variety of reasons (if a case is deemed related to another case before a Judge or if a Judge has another unrelated lawsuit against the same plaintiff, etc). The fact that cases in the federal circuit are specifically assigned under certain circumstances hints that the assignment of cases can be manipulated.

If you look at the totality of how Perry came about and it ending up with a Gay Judge and that Judge being so eager to get THE DRAMA on tv that he violated court rules ... you have THE APPEARANCE of something possibly inappropriate and Vaughn Walter announcing his retirement