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.
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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.
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.