Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Equal treatment under law

Yesterday a federal judge ruled, in vigorous language that Judge Vaughn Walker's holding that Prop. 8, California's gay marriage ban, is unconstitutional should not be overturned because Walker is gay. This seems pretty clear and simple:

In a case that could affect the general public based on the circumstances or characteristics of various members of that public, the fact that a federal judge happens to share the same circumstances or characteristic and will only be affected in a similar manner because the judge is a member of the public, is not a basis for disqualifying the judge.

...[I]t is inconsistent with the general principles of constitutional adjudication to presume that a member of a minority group reaps a greater benefit from application of the substantive protections of our Constitution than would a member of the majority. The fact that this is a case challenging a law on equal protection and due process grounds being prosecuted by members of a minority group does not mean that members of the minority group have a greater interest in equal protection and due process than the rest of society. In our society, a variety of citizens of different backgrounds coexist because we have constitutionally bound ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of one another from being violated by unlawful treatment. Thus, we all have an equal stake in a case that challenges the constitutionality of a restriction on a fundamental right.

...Requiring recusal because a court issued an injunction that could provide some speculative future benefit to the presiding judge solely on the basis of the fact that the judge belongs to the class against whom the unconstitutional law was directed would lead to a [] standard that required recusal of minority judges in most, if not all, civil rights cases.

Obviously the Examiner wasn't paying attention to the content of the ruling because the throwaway paper's cover this morning looked like this:

This ruling is not a victory for Judge Walker. It is a victory for any citizen, of any race, gender, or sexual orientation, who needs equal treatment under the law.

Somehow I don't think the plaintiffs would have dared try this attack on the judge's legitimacy if the issue had been one of women's or racial minoritys' civil rights. But they apparently hope they can still get away with such a discriminatory claim against a gay judge -- in their minds, though not in law, he is disqualified simply because he is gay. The Examiner seems to want to flog the same idea. Homophobes are working hard to keep the gays down -- and they are failing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This ruling, though expected, was a win! Nice to see the affirmation that constitutional protections benefit ALL of us.

--Sarah Lawton

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