Conflict of Interest
Or, under what circumstances should a judge recuse himself?
posted about 6 years ago
In 2008, voters in California approved a ballot measure known as Proposition 8 which would amend the Constitution of California to include the following language:
The measure passed with 52.24% of the vote. There was a great deal of campaigning on both sides of the issue, from both in-state and out-of-state organizations. Prior to the passing of Prop 8, the institution of civil marriage in the state of California had been expanded to include unions of two same-sex individuals, due to a ruling by the California Supreme Court.
Since the California Supreme Court is bound by the Constitution of California, the only recourse for opponents of Prop 8 was the Federal court system. In their District Court case Perry v. Schwarzenegger (footnote: then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is the defendant in this case by law, although he personally opposed Proposition 8), the opponents of Prop 8 argued that it violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Section 1 of Amendment XIV reads
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Judge Vaughn Walker, a Reagan nominee and Bush 41 appointee, sided with the defendants, holding that
The ruling has been stayed due to an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which has deferred the matter to the California Supreme Court.
The Relevant Question
Yesterday (25 April 2011), the supporters of Prop 8 filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit to vacate Judge Walker's ruling, with the reasoning that
Apparently, Judge Vaughn Walker is gay (although he has since retired from the bench) and lives with another man (although they are not married).
So should Walker have recused himself? Does this constitute sufficient grounds to vacate the decision?
(edited about 6 years ago)