Lambda Legal: Hail-Mary Motion to Vacate Historic Prop 8 Ruling Unfair Both to Judge and Judicial System

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"Proponents of Proposition 8 certainly are getting desperate."
April 25, 2011
Jon W. Davidson

"It's becoming a sadly typical move of the right: Don't like the ruling; attack the referee."

(San Francisco, April 25, 2011)—In reaction to today's filing of a motion to vacate last year's historic decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker declaring California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Jon Davidson, Legal Director for Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

"Proponents of Proposition 8 certainly are getting desperate. This reeks of a hail-Mary attempt to assail Judge Walker's character because they are unable to rebut the extremely well-reasoned ruling he issued last year. It's becoming a sadly typical move of the right: don't like the ruling; attack the referee.

"To say that Judge Walker's should have disclosed his 10-year relationship with another man or that it made him unfit to rule on Proposition 8 is like saying that a married heterosexual judge deciding an issue in a divorce proceeding has to disclose if he or she is having marital problems and might someday be affected by legal rulings in the case. Or that any judge who professes any religious faith is unable to rule on any question of religious liberty or, at a minimum, must disclose what his faith teaches. Much like a suggestion that a female judge could not preside over a case involving sexual harassment or an African American judge could not preside over a case involving race discrimination, Proposition 8's supporters improperly are suggesting that a judge will rule in favor of any litigant with whom he shares a personal characteristic.

"Judges hold a special and respected place in our society. Every day, they are called upon to administer justice—in routine contract or traffic court disputes, gut-wrenching child custody decisions, complex criminal proceedings, and, as in this case, disputes about the basic human rights that our Constitution is designed to protect. There may be judges who betray their responsibilities and act with bias, but such a grave accusation must be supported by evidence. Simply disagreeing with a decision is not evidence that it was the result of bias. And assuming that being in a same-sex relationship renders some judges unable to interpret the law and do the job they have sworn to do insults both judges and America's system of justice."