Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Vaughn Walker’s Belated Revelation


In an essay on NRO’s home page, I explain how former district judge Vaughn Walker’s recent, and long belated, revelation that he has been in a same-sex relationship for the past ten years means that he should have disqualified himself from taking part in the anti-Prop 8 case—and that his judgment in that case should be vacated.

I invite those who resist my conclusion to identify what additional facts, if any, would alter their assessment. I also invite those who dispute the principle I set forth to test their political biases by hypothesizing an analogous situation in which they would disfavor (or would be neutral on) recognition of a constitutional right. Imagine, for example, that a federal judge was living in a polygamous household with three women in State X, that he was not married to any of them, and that he wanted to be married to all three simultaneously. Would it be proper for this judge to preside over a lawsuit challenging the anti-polygamy laws of State X as violative of the federal Constitution?

(And, no, I am not equating same-sex marriage with polygamy.)


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