Conflict of Interest for Judge in Prop 8 Trial?

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The San Francisco Chronicle has reported "the biggest open secret" in the legal challenge against Proposition 8 is that the judge who is hearing the trial "is himself gay."

The paper reports many gay politicians in the northern California city say Chief District U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker has never taken pains to hide his gay orientation.

Conservatives following the case say Walker has already proven a pro-gay bias. They point out the U.S. Supreme Court struck down his attempt to skirt federal rules by broadcasting the trial.

Regent University Law Professor Bradley Jacob appeared on Thursday's Newswatch program to discuss how, if this is true, it could affect the judge's partiality in the case. Click play for his comments.

"From the outset, Walker's entire course of conduct in the anti-Prop 8 case has reflected a manifest design to turn the lawsuit into a high-profile, culture-transforming, history-making, Scopes-style show trial of Prop 8's sponsors," Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writes in the National Review Online blog, "The Corner."

"Walker's entire course of conduct has only one sensible explanation. That Walker is hell bent to use the case to advance the cause of same-sex marriage," Whelan added. "Given his manifest inability to be impartial, Walker should have recused himself from the beginning, and he remains obligated to do so now."

Walker also ordered Prop 8 supporters to disclose private campaign communications.

*Originally published February 11, 2010.

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