Marriage Appeal In California

Faced with a ballot proposition defining “marriage” for the second time in eight years, California voters in the 2008 election approved Proposition 8, for the second time defining “marriage” as the union of one man and one woman, and this time enshrining the traditional definition as an Amendment to the Constitution of the State of California.

Defeated at the polls, opponents of traditional marriage sued. 

After a federal court trial in which opponents of Prop. 8 rehashed all the “reasons” why marriage should include the union of two committed same sex biological units who “love each other”, and that any argument for traditional marriage was discrimination, reportedly gay Federal Judge Vaughn Walker decided to invent a right to same sex marriage and ruled that the voter approved Amendment to the state Constitution was Unconstitutional!

When the Judge’s decision was handed down, critics predicted that the doors had been flung wide open for advocates of other “unions” who would now come forward into the media circus claiming that theirs was also a “marriage”.  The parade has begun.

In a Canadian Provincial Court a woman and two men have challenged the Canadian law against polygamy.  They must be a marriage–they all love each other.

In Germany, an Appeals Court is considering the case of a brother and sister with three children who object to the law against incest.  “We’ve always known we belong together”.

Can this insanity be stopped? Maybe.

Judge Vaughn’s decision (his last; he retired) is on appeal to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals–known to aficionados of this court’s wacky record as the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals.

Living down to its reputation, the Circus stacked the deck in naming a three judge panel to hear this appeal

On the panel, Bill Clinton appointee hard core liberal Michael D. Hawkins, N. Randy Smith, a Republican who had to be nominated twice by George Bush to get Senate confirmation (Senators were aching to ask Smith why a Republican would want to sit on the Ninth Circus in the first place), and Jimmy Carter appointee Stephen Reinhardt, the most liberal judge on the Circus and the most reversed (by the Supreme Court) federal appeals judge in American history.

There are other bad signs too.  California officials charged with defending the voters’ decision actively opposed Proposition 8. 

The lawsuit had been filed in federal court against the State of California.  California law required the Attorney General to represent and defend the State and its citizens.  The California Attorney General (Jerry Brown at the time) had publicly denounced Proposition 8 as bigotry.  Governor Arnold S. also campaigned against Prop 8 and criticized voters for passing it. 

Judge Vaughn put his hand on the scale as well.  When proponents of Proposition 8 ( tried to intervene in the trial based on the disinclination of representatives of the state to defend the voters’ decision, the judge said no.  It was an important decision because not being recognized as an Intervener meant that proponents were not parties to the lawsuit and therefore had no standing to appeal Judge Vaughn’s ruling.

Particularly troubling right now is the appointment of Judge Reinhardt to the three judge appeals panel.

The Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges requires that a judge “…disqualify himself…in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned”. Reasonable questions about Judge Reinhardt’s impartiality certainly exist. 

The Judge is married to Ramona Ripston, the long serving executive director of the Southern California ACLU. 

Ripston contributed money to the No on Prop 8 campaign, she celebrated Judge Vaughn’s decision in a written ACLU press release, and, the publication California Lawyer documented a private meeting Ripston had before the lawsuit with the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.  Following the meeting, these lawyers filed the lawsuit against Proposition 8 which is the subject of this appeal.

Judge Reinhardt is the poster boy for liberal judicial activism. 

He ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional as applied to federal worker benefits (and was overruled); voted to strike down a federal ban on partial birth abortion (and was overruled); reversed a deportation order holding that when the illegal alien exposed himself to schoolchildren for his own sexual pleasure, it was not a crime of “moral turpitude” justifying deportation.  The Judge also believes it is unconstitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.

Ya think there are grounds to reasonably question Judge Reinhardt’s impartiality? 

The Judge should disqualify himself, or the Supreme Court should step in and remove him from this case.

As for Jerry Brown–will he uphold his oath of office and defend the will of California voters in support of their preference for traditional marriage or will he subvert the will of the voters in pursuit of his own personal preference?