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Judge Vaughn Walker: Yeah I’m A Homo, So What, Who Cares?

Acknowledging his sexuality for the first time in public, Vaughn Walker, who left the U.S. District Court bench in February, and who declared Prop 8 unconstitutional and is now seeing his court ruling bandied about on appeal, told reporters today that not only is he a big ‘mo, but he’s also been in a relationship with his partner for 10 years. As for the argument that gay judges can somehow not rule on cases involving sexuality, Walker takes the same position Queerty always has: immutable characteristics like sexuality, race, and gender are not judicial conflicts of interest. Taking those traits into consideration when a judge decides whether to recuse himself from a case, says Walker, is “a very slippery slope.” The Los Angeles Times, stupidly, would disagree.

By:           Max Simon
On:           Apr 6, 2011
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 18 Comments
    • Joetx
      Joetx

      Judge Walker was a district court judge, not a 9th Circuit Court judge. The 9th Circuit is the appellate court above his former district.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • caffesilvia
      caffesilvia

      I can see this issue both ways, really.

      For practical purposes, yes, there was a bias. Judge Walker is a member of a minority group that’s currently in the midst of a historic civil rights effort. He presided over a trial that was very important to that dffort. He even had a very personal stake in the outcome, as it would determine whether he and his partner could be legally married in his own domicile.

      You may say, he’s a judge, he’s professional, he didn’t let his personal agenda affect his role as judge. I think that’s naive. Many, many legal standards that crop up on the way to a trial hinge ultimately on an undefined notion of fairness. I think a judge’s personal beliefs about the equities of a particular dispute are going to weigh heavily because a judge needs *some* frame of reference to make these decisions.

      (Some judges do try to be impartial, but there is significant academic research suggesting that this is a doomed effort. What I’ve observed personally is that many judges just overcompensate by being a bit harsher on their “own” side. But that’s not impartial either.)

      Now, from a prescriptive standpoint, do I think Judge Walker should have recused himself? No way. Judges live under the same laws as the rest of us, so they’re often going to have some stake or another in the outcome of a judicial review. Moreover, had Walker been heterosexual, that too would also have given him a biased frame of reference (even if he supported gay rights or was dispassionate on the issue). Ultimately, judges are human and shouldn’t be disqualified unless there is some obviously improper connection such as a direct financial interest in a litigant.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TwlightoftheDogs
      TwlightoftheDogs

      @caffesilvia: By your logic, no one could rule on anything since straights would be biased in favor of straights, and whites, in favor of whites. The reason why there is not two sides to this argument is that it is by definition of being human impossible to not be a member of classes that will either come up before the court. When voting on homsexuality you are also voting as a hetero. Privilege always blinds the majority to the fact that they are biased by their own membership in a class.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • GayGOP
      GayGOP

      @caffesilvia: By your logic, I presume, then, that Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas should recuse/should have recused themselves on all racial issues, while Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan should recuse/should have recused themselves in all cases where sex and gender was a major issue, including all abortion cases.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @Chris:@GayGOP: what logic?? There was no logic.I’m guessing CaffeSilva is a second year pre-law student.

      A blog comment of more than 12 lines is almost never worth reading.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jimmy Fury
      Jimmy Fury

      @justiceontherocks: It’s ok, neither of them bothered to read the whole thing either.

      Had they done so they would have seen that Caffesilvia did indeed point out that the sexuality=bias thing is illogical because it would make heterosexual judges biased as well.

      His or her point was not that Walker is biased because he’s gay but that all judges are human and will therefore be influenced by personal feelings in some way.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @Ian: my point was really more about the 12 line rule. You stated it nicely in 3 or 4 lines.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justiceontherocks
      justiceontherocks

      @Jimmy Fury: my comment #7 was of course for you. Apologies.

      Apr 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      @Justiceontherocks: Yet more proof that we need an asexual judge!
      [NB: two lines, now three. Not bad for me!]

      Apr 7, 2011 at 2:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      If you’ve actually read Walker’s ruling (go “Google” — it’s available complete online) it’s obvious that his sexuality was not involved in any way. He judged what was palced before him with reason, logic and legal precedent. The opposition was given opportunity after opportunity to challnge evidence and testimony but they chose not to do soo — clining to the notion htat “opposite marriage” is a self-evident truth.

      And that’s why they lost.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Let’s start talking about whether or not Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts licks his wifes kitty in the morning or the evening. Shall we?

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      It’s a hot button issue for me if Samuel Alito jerks off in his chambers with his coffee cup full or half empty.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Does Antonin Scalia secretly wish he had an asian schlong? People want to know.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Why hasn’t Clarence Thomas been required to show his birth certificate?

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Does Elena Kagan get wet watching her doggie bobblehead?

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Ruth Bader Ginsburg is really Teddy Roosevelt.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      Sonia Sotomayor plays dominatrix for Anthony Kennedy in spandex? Is it true?

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      And Stephen Breyer is a GOD.

      Apr 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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