The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the judge presiding over the Proposition 8 appeal, Judge Vaughn Walker, is gay:
“The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay.
Many gay politicians in San Francisco and lawyers who have had dealings with Walker say the 65-year-old jurist, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, has never taken pains to disguise – or advertise – his orientation.”
If that is true, it would explain a lot. Why was Judge Walker so eager to break federal court rules against televising hearings? Why was he so eager to deny the defense their first amendment rights by trying to force them to disclose private campaign documents?
Twice now, higher courts have had to intervene in Judge Walker’s court proceedings to check his enthusiasm for tipping the scales of justice.
Could Judge Walker being gay himself have any bearing on his decisions? We’ll never know. As one commenter on this story said:
“He should have recused himself, just to avoid the image of impropriety. As it is, people will always wonder, and assume he made those bad judgments out of an inappropriate personal bias.”
Certainly a judge’s personal life and choices do not HAVE to interfere with his impartiality, however it certainly does color the appearance of his decision.
History will always question his judgment and wonder. No matter what side of the issue you fall on, this information does nothing but cast doubt on the legitimacy of this court and its proceedings.