The chief federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that his retired colleague Vaughn Walker was under no legal obligation to step aside from ruling on California's same-sex marriage ban because he is a gay man.
Walker ruled in August that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Legal experts had characterized the attempt to overturn Walker's ruling on the basis of his sexuality as a Hail Mary pass by foes of marriage equality. Under such reasoning, a black judge could not rule on civil rights cases that might benefit African-Americans, or a female judge could not weigh in on discrimination cases that could help women in the workplace.
Not only would that set a confounding precedent coloring future cases, it could jeopardize rulings from more than 200 years of U.S. litigation.
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While the issues surrounding Vaughn have been settled as far as Chief Judge James Ware is concerned, Vaughn's decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which some suspect will punt a decision on Prop. 8 to the U.S. Supreme Court.