Monday, February 15, 2010

Can a Gay Judge Be Fair to Straight Folks?

"After recent news stories reporting that Judge Vaughn Walker (pictured), the federal judge presiding over the Olson/Boies federal challenge to Prop 8’s ban on marriage of same-sex couples, is a gay man, some commentators have started calling for Judge Walker to recuse himself from the case. Whatever Judge Walker’s sexual orientation is, it’s not a reason to take him off the case," writes James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project. "Since there have not been many openly gay judges in any of our courts, we don’t have much law addressing this question directly. But it doesn’t take much thought to work through the issue in closely related contexts: Can an African-American or a female judge rule on a case about racial or gender bias in employment? The courts have answered that one, quite clearly and many times over: Of course she can."

"Take Constance Baker Motley, an African-American woman who spent a long legal career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, litigating desegregation cases (including Brown v. Board of Education) and other landmarks of the civil rights movement. After President Johnson put her on the federal bench, some litigants made motions to disqualify her from civil rights cases because she was African-American and a woman." READ MORE