Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vaughn Walker and vested interests

Saying that Vaughn Walker can't adjudicate Prop8 because he has a "vested interest" in the outcome because he's gay and might want to marry, is like saying a woman judge of fertile years can't hear abortion cases because she might want an abortion. It's like saying an African American judge can't hear a case about racial discrimination in the insurance industry because it might affect his premiums. It's like saying an atheist judge with children can't hear a case about prayer in school.

In short, it's stupid, and it's insulting.

And as one writer said,
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, at long last the anti-gay marriage movement has been unmasked for what it is; disgusting homophobia and bigotry wrapped up in voter referendums and moving documents.

Let's follow the logic through, shall we? Prop8 proponents are saying that Judge Walker must have a personal interest in this case because he's gay and in a long term relationship.

But they knew he was gay before the case started. It was widely discussed (including here at GMC). Thus, the time to ask for a recusal was a year ago. FAIL on point one.

Secondly, as Adam Serwer writes,
[S]supporters of the same-sex marriage ban are arguing that marriage equality is so damaging to the institution of marriage that the government has a vital interest in making sure gays and lesbians can’t get married. That means that a straight, married judge couldn’t be expected to be impartial, either — after all, according to supporters of Prop 8, “the further deinstitutionalization of marriage caused by the legalization of same-sex marriage,” would directly impact married heterosexuals. Therefore, a heterosexual, married judge could be seen as having just as much “skin in the game” as Judge Walker.

Proposition 8 supporters would never make that argument, of course, because the implication of their argument is that gays and lesbians are incapable of the impartiality expected of judges by their very nature. The notion that Walker’s ruling should be vacated is build on the flimsy assumption that gays and lesbians are different from heterosexuals in a manner that justifies denying them their fundamental rights.
If the whole thesis of their argument is that Prop8 attacks straight marriages.... so why wouldn't a straight judge also have an interest? FAIL on point two.

The hearing is on June 13th.

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