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Bias from the bench
Proposition 8 appeal judge Vaughn Walker seems to have had one goal: to generate sympathy for gay marriage supporters.
In a story last Sunday the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Proposition 8 judge Vaughn Walker is gay and called his orientation, "The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage."
We have no idea whether the report is true or not. But we do know one really big important fact about Judge Walker: He's been an amazingly biased and one-sided force throughout this trial, far more akin to an activist than a neutral referee. That's no secret at all.
Protect Marriage, the defendants in this case, are effectively being held hostage by Judge Walker and cannot really comment.
But Judge Walker's bias from the bench includes:
A series of rulings permitting deep and deeply irrelevant "fishing expeditions" into the private and personal motivations and secret campaign strategy of campaign proponents. It wasn't six guys at Protect Marriage that passed Prop 8, it was 7 million Californians. But Judge Walker went so far as to order the Prop 8 campaign to disclose private internal communications about messages that were considered for public use but never actually used. He even ordered the campaign to turn over copies of all internal records and e-mail messages relating to campaign strategy.
Even though the Prop 8 supporters were forced to turn over private, internal documents and emails, Walker has refused to demand the same from opponents of the measure. In fact, Walker has refused to even rule on a motion to compel the discovery of this information, even though he has already closed testimony in the case. That alone is an unbelievable tilting of the playing field.
Walker has presided over a show trial designed to generate sympathetic headlines and news coverage for gay marriage supporters. Witness after witness was allowed to testify about their "expert" opinion that homosexuals have been discriminated against, that they feel badly when society does not validate their relationships, and that the passage of Prop 8 was simply an echo of historic prejudice and bigotry foisted on society by religious zealots.
To show the lengths that Walker has gone to create a "record" favouring the plaintiffs, he even allowed one "expert" witness -- a gay man from Colorado who has never lived in California and was never exposed to any Prop 8 campaign messages -- to testify that his parents' efforts to change his sexual orientation failed.
But the most egregious, and damaging, of all of Judge Walker's rulings was his determination to violate federal rules to broadcast his show trial worldwide. The US Supreme Court eventually blocked Walker's efforts (and rapped his biased knuckles sharply!) finding that he improperly changed the rules "at the eleventh hour" in violation of federal law. (Unfortunately, however, but by the time the Supreme Court issued a permanent stay two days into trial, the supporters of Prop 8 had already lost two-thirds of their expert witnesses who feared retaliation from the publicity).
Judge Walker's bias has been so extreme, he's earned a rare judicial "twofer." Key elements of his "fishing expedition" rulings were already reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (notably one of the most liberal in the nation) and the Supreme Court had to step in to block his illegal attempt to broadcast the trial.
It is highly unusual for a higher court to have to intercede in a trial judge's handling of a trial while it is going on -- yet Walker has had that "distinction" twice in the same case -- and we're not yet even at closing arguments.
There's only one saving grace to Judge Walker's bias. It's so big, and so obvious, not only the American public but the Supreme Court itself is already aware we have bias in the trial judge presiding.
Brian S. Brown is the Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, based in Princeton, New Jersey. Article reproduced with permission.
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