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Proposition 8 supporters ask appeals court to overturn ruling

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The Judicial Update

December 9, 2011

California: On Thursday, December 8, supporters and lawyers of California's Proposition 8 asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate former Federal Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling against them. The basis for the claim was that Judge Walker could not have been impartial to the case because of his own long term romantic relationship with another man and, therefore, stands to benefit from the ruling.[1]

The arguments were previously answered by Northern District Chief Judge James Ware, who ruled that the trial was handled fairly and that Judge Walker was not obliged to reveal his sexual orientation during trial or whether or not he was involved in a same-sex relationship. It is this ruling that is being formally appealed.[1]

Proposition 8 opponents argued against the claims on Thursday saying that vacating Judge Walker's decision would suggest that minority judges that might share an interest with a large selection of the public cannot fairly decide cases. David Boies, a lawyer representing Prop. 8 opponents, further argued that there was no standing case law requiring a judge to disclose such interests and a ruling in opposition to this would create "an intolerable double standard for minority judges."[1]

The court did not seem overly sympathetic or accepting of the Proposition 8 supporters arguments. Judge Randy Smith even challenged the arguments by asking whether it was appropriate for a married judge to handle a divorce case and whether such a judge would have to reveal the health of his own relationship.[1]

The panel hearing the appeal consists of Judges Michael D. Hawkins, Stephen Reinhardt and Randy Smith.[2]