Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Motion to Vacate Ruling That Prop 8 Is Unconstitutional
(San Francisco, December 8, 2011) -- The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today heard oral arguments in the effort by the proponents of Proposition 8 to vacate the historic August 2010 ruling by now-retired U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker finding the discriminatory 2008 proposition unconstitutional. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn issued the following statement at the conclusion of today’s hearing:
"The Court raked the lawyer for Prop 8's proponents over the coals for their argument that gay judges alone have special obligations to prove their impartiality that no other judge must bear. From the start, this motion was an offensive ploy by the proponents of Prop 8 to distract attention from the unconstitutionality of Prop 8 and the ongoing harm that that measure inflicts upon same-sex couples and their families. But the motion came at the expense of the integrity of the judicial system and the judges who have devoted their lives to public service and ensuring justice. We hope for a swift victory that will put this dangerous and desperate argument out of its misery."
Prop 8 proponents contend that Judge Vaughn Walker should have declined to hear the original case, now known as Perry v. Brown, because he is gay and in a long-term relationship, and that his 135-page decision should be invalidated. U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware, who was assigned the case after Judge Walker's retirement, denied the Proponents' request in June, writing that "the presumption that Judge Walker, by virtue of being in a same-sex relationship, had a desire to be married that rendered him incapable of making an impartial decision, is as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief."
Lambda Legal joined with the National Council for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California and Equality California in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Ninth Circuit to uphold Judge Ware's ruling.
The case is Perry v. Brown.
Press contact: Tom Warnke, Email: [email protected]
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.