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Biased Judge on California’s Proposition 8 Marriage Case

By February 11, 2010Legal
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The regular folks watching the developments of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger marriage trial in California had an “aha” moment when the San Francisco Chronicle1 wrote a column discussing the presiding judge’s “sexual orientation.” Surprise, surprise! He’s “gay.”

That explains a lot.

Throughout the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a series of rulings that were anything but impartial. Even before the trial started, his staunch advocacy for the broadcast of the trial, in direct violation of federal law, was perplexing. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the activist order, saying:

The District Court [i.e. Judge Walker] attempted to change its rules at the eleventh hour to treat this case differently than other trials in the district. Not only did it ignore the federal statute that establishes the procedures by which its rules may be amended, its express purpose was to broadcast a high-profile trial that would include witness testimony about a contentious issue.2

But the fact remains that Judge Walker was more interested in public opinion than in what the law says.

The judge’s view of what was “relevant” in the case was also disturbing. Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, called the series of rulings “a wild witchhunt.”3 Simply put, whatever the supporters of same-sex “marriage” wanted to bring up was okay by him, no matter how irrelevant to the questions in the case.

He even went so far as to order supporters of traditional marriage to turn over hundreds of private documents (like private e-mails) that discussed Proposition 8’s campaign strategy. That gross overreach was also struck down, this time by the extremely liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The order prevented some irrelevant information from being exploited by the proponents of same-sex marriage in their “show trial,” but not all of it. For example, it did not prevent Judge Walker’s approval of same-sex “marriage” supporters using the trial to bash Christianity and laugh at those who believe in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

Why the Ninth Circuit was discussing the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrinal statements in looking at the validity of a constitutional amendment approved by more than seven million Californians nobody knows.

Judge Walker allowed same-sex “marriage” supporters to present hours upon hours of irrelevant emotional appeals but little legal substance. Any reasonable observer could see there was nothing there. Time after time, witness after witness, those present could not help but wonder why this debate was even happening in that courtroom? Why was the judge allowing this circus to continue?

Well, we might have the answer after the Chronicle‘s article.

Now, I know that the judge’s sexuality is not really important legally. His biased, activist and unlawful decisions are the real problem and not his motives. But it sure helps to explain a lot.

The “appearance of impropriety” is just too strong.

End Notes

  1. Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, “Judge being gay a nonissue during Prop. 8 trial,” February 7, 2010 (available at:
  2. Hollingsworth v. Perry, 558 U.S. ___, 16 (2010).
  3. Ed Whelan, “Judge Walker’s Wild Witchhunt-Part-1,” January 9, 2010 (available at: