Vaughn Walker Recusal Not Needed in Prop 8 Case

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 14, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Breaking News: Former judge Vaughn Walker did not need to recuse himself from hearing the Prop 8 same-sex marriage case. This ruling came in earlier today by federal judge James Ware, writes The Wall Street Journal.

If you're unfamiliar with the Vaughn Walker case, you're likely asking yourself why he needed to recuse himself.

The answer to that is very simple for Prop 8 supporters: Because he's gay.

Let's clarify that statement further. Retired Chief Judge of the Federal District Court Vaughn Walker is in a long term same-sex relationship. Now, this shouldn't be a problem except for the fact that proponents of California's ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, believe that by virtue of this relationship, Judge Walker would be biased when hearing the legal challenge to Prop 8.

Last year, Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, concluding that it violated the rights of same-sex couples. Proposition 8 advocates, however, pushed for the decision to be set aside, claiming that Judge Vaughn Walker had been biased due to the fact that he had been in a 10-year relationship with a male doctor. Prop 8 advocates claimed that the judge had a desire to be married to his partner and that as such, had an interest in the outcome of the Prop 8 controversy.

This move by Proposition 8 backers was made last month, reports the San Jose Mercury, who wanted the decision vacated on the grounds that Judge Vaughn Walker had not recused himself from the hearing.

In his decision, Judge Ware noted that the claim of Judge Walker's desire to one day marry his partner was too speculative an idea to establish bias.

Judge Ware also wrote that the presumption that Judge Walker had been biased, based on his sexual predisposition "is as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief."

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