NOM BLOG

CitizenLink: Why Judge Walker Should Have Stepped Down

 

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware, who replaced Judge Vaughn Walker (after he ruled against Prop 8), said at today's hearing that he would issue a judgement within 24 hours.

Catherine Snow explains the case for Judge Walker's obligation to recuse:

Media Matters and liberal and gay activists mistakenly claim that ProtectMarriage.com wants [Judge Vaughn] Walker’s ruling to be vacated merely because he identified himself as gay. Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center — and perhaps the Prop 8 trial’s keenest outside observer — points out that their distractions and distortions cloud the acute nature of Walker’s lapse in ethics — that he chose to rule on his personal rights. “It’s bad enough that so many of Walker’s defenders don’t confront the actual argument made by Prop 8 proponents. It’s even worse that they resort to invective as a substitute for their lack of argument,” Whelan opined.

“For example, Adam Serwer calls the motion to vacate ‘slimy’ and falsely claims that it rests ‘on the flimsy assumption that gays and lesbians are different from heterosexuals in a manner that justifies denying them their fundamental rights.’ (He also has no support for his claim that the motion is ‘built on an unstated. but core conservative view of the courts — that judicial ‘impartiality’ is best defined as viewing the law through the cultural prism of a heterosexual, conservative white Christian judge.’ But why bother to argue when simply alleging is so much easier?)”

In short, had Walker recused himself — or ruled in favor of Prop 8 — he would have destroyed his prospect of being in a same-sex marriage, if he so desired.

Even legal ethicist Jack Marshall, who supports same-sex marriage, reluctantly admitted: “Astraightforward application of the judicial ethics rules compels the conclusion that Walker should have recused himself from taking part in the [Perry v. Schwarzenegger] case” (emphasis added).

 

7 Comments

  1. chris from CO
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Yep 24 hours and it isn't looking good for your side. We will see though, I really like this judge he seems fair.

  2. Randy E king
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Everyone seems fair up until the time they disagree with your position; then they turn into bigots. My two year old nieces do the exact same thing...

  3. gris in ca
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Since Judge Walker and his partner did not avail themselves of the opportunity to legally marry in California when they could, and apparently never expressed interest in doing so, this makes the self-interest point moot. A better example of legal ethics violations is when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't recuse himself in cases involving health care when his wife is a highly-compensated lobbyist in the health care industry.

  4. Posted June 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    For those who think Judge Walker was not disqualified, let me ask a few questions.

    If a judge hears a fraud suit against a corporation, and his son works there, under what circumstances would he be required to recuse himself from the case? Would it be a breach of judicial ethics if the judge knew about his son’s employment with the firm and refused to disclose it?

    If a judge hears a sex discrimination suit against a school alleging that the school’s music program discriminates against girls, and her daughter attends the school, under what circumstances would she be required to recuse herself? Would it be a breach of judicial ethics if she refused to disclose her daughter’s attendance at the school?

    What should be the remedy if the judge refuses to disclose information he knew to be important until months after the trial court’s decision?

    Since Judge Walker and his partner did not avail themselves of the opportunity to legally marry in California when they could, and apparently never expressed interest in doing so, this makes the self-interest point moot.

    Since [the plaintiffs] did not avail themselves of the opportunity to legally marry in California when they could...

    Walker's interest can be inferred from his refusal to recuse. In fact, had he disclosed his relationship and denied any direct, immediate interest in being "married", a recusal motion on the basis of the relationship would very likely fail.

    A better example of legal ethics violations is when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't recuse himself in cases involving health care when his wife is a highly-compensated lobbyist in the health care industry.

    Which case would that be?

  5. Randy
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    The US supreme court will get this case and they will throw the ruling out from Walker......

  6. Zak Jones
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    It's official. The results are in:

    After considering the Oppositions to the Motion and the governing law, as discussed below,
    the Court finds that neither recusal nor disqualification was required based on the asserted grounds.
    The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with
    other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a
    proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a
    basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section 455(b)(4). Further, under Section 455(a), it
    is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the
    constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the
    proceedings. Accordingly, the Motion to Vacate Judgment on the sole ground of Judge Walker’s
    same-sex relationship is DENIED.

  7. John N.
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Just say the next blog on the debate on CNN regarding SSM. The homosexual lobbyists oppose a federal amendment on one man/one woman marriage because it infringes on states rights. However they want the Supreme Court to violate those same states rights and institute SSM from the bench.