Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ninth Circuit Skeptical of Bias by Walker in Prop. 8 Hearing

The hate merchants and liars among the proponents of California's Proposition 8 appeared to take a beating today in hearings before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today. Two of the issues argued today involved (1) whether or not video tapes of the trial should be made available to the public and (2) whether or not Judge Walker's ruling should be overturned merely because he subsequently revealed that he was in a long term same sex relationship. As noted before on this blog, by extension the Proposition 8 argument against Walker would mean that female judges, black judges and many others would have to recuse themselves from cases. On the issue of the video tapes of the trial, from those who were at the trial, the real fear of the Proposition 8 proponents is that the tapes would not only make the anti-gay animus of the Proposition 8 witnesses clear, but also show that there really are no non-religion based arguments to support Proposition 8. Hopefully, a final ruling on all issues, including the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 will be handed down soon. Here are highlights from The Advocate's coverage:

In what was likely the last hearing before a ruling is delivered on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday appeared unconvinced that a previous ruling on the ban be tossed because the judge was in a longterm same-sex relationship.

Before the issue of whether former Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from the 2010 case where he ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit dealt with the release of videotapes of that trial. Prop. 8 proponents have been fighting for years to keep the tapes unavailable to the public, while gay rights advocates want the public to see them. . . . Thompson made the case that witnesses would be harassed and intimidated should the tapes be made public; judges didn't seem convinced.

Moving to the issue of Walker, it seemed the Prop. 8 proponents had a much bigger mountain to climb. Lawyer Charles Cooper tried to convince the judges that Walker had a stake in the Prop. 8 case, since he was in a longterm gay relationship. The judges questioned whether it was clear Walker wanted to marry, since he didn't during the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in California.

AFER's David Boies rebutted Cooper's arguments, asking the Ninth Circuit panel whether a heterosexual judge committed to opposite-sex marriage would have to disclose that information or recuse himself or herself. Boies added that the Prop. 8 supporters are singling out minority judges and holding them to different standards.

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