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Federal judge who ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional plans to step down

Walker Vaughn R. Walker, the federal judge who ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, will leave the bench at the end of the year for the private sector, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco announced Wednesday.

A media liaison for the court said Walker's decision was unrelated to his August ruling that found a ban on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. 

Walker presided over an unprecedented federal trial earlier this year that examined a wide array of questions about gays and lesbians, including whether sexual orientation can be changed and whether same-sex unions differ much from opposite-sex unions.

Walker, 66, a Republican appointee considered a conservative with a libertarian bent, has served as a federal district judge for nearly 21 years and as chief judge of the San Francisco-based court since 2004.

A statement by the court said only that Walker would "return to the private sector." The media liaison said another statement about his future plans may be released in the next month or so.

Walker's ruling overturning Proposition 8, which is now being appealed, prompted outrage from conservatives and a scathing condemnation from the lawyers for the proponents of the 2008 ballot measure.

In a brief filed earlier this month in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for ProtectMarriage argued that Walker ignored the law and suggested that he was biased.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have embraced the ruling, and  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown have refused to appeal it.

The 9th Circuit will hold a hearing in December to determine whether ProtectMarriage and other Proposition 8 supporters have legal authority to appeal, and if so, whether Walker's ruling should stand.

Walker informed President Obama of his decision in a letter.

“Concluding twenty‐one years of judicial service, I leave the bench with the highest respect and regard for the federal judiciary, its judges and their staff and the essential role they fulfill in our constitutional
system," Walker wrote.

District chief judges are selected based on age, seniority and experience and may serve for a maximum of seven years. Walker's term would have expired next August. The court said District Judge James Ware will become chief judge in January.

-- Maura Dolan

Photo: Judge Vaughn R. Walker, speaking in 2006. Credit: S. Todd Rogers / San Francisco Daily Journal

Comments () | Archives (14)

Well, finally a decision we can all respect, unlike his last one.

Looks like he cant handle the heat of his decision. What a coward!

Nice. Rule on Prop. 8 to serve your constituency (i.e., gay community) and then step down.

What a gay schmuck.

Now that he has overturned the people's votes, he plans to marry his partner go into the "private sector" or/aka pretty much retire.

Sounds a little fishy.

take this for example.

Prop 19 does not pass due to enough votes after the november ballot. I am a judge who is also a pothead. I overturn the ruling and say that it's unconstitutional to make laws that prohibit people from inhaling something that is just a plant. Soon after overturning it, I decide now is a good time to leave cause there is nothing left on my checklist anymore that will benefit my life..

umm ok.

I think he knows his credibility will be shot when his biased ruling is overturned by a higher court, provided the 9th Circus Court of Appeals doesnt spit in the face of the 52% of California voters who voted FOR Proposition 8. Unless that notoriously liberal court somehow determines that NOBODY is allowed to act on behalf of MILLIONS of voters whose voting rights hang in the balance.

"Judge" Walker's decision to leave the bench and continue his career in the private sector is odd since it's the exact opposite of most career paths in the legal field. In general, the preferred trajectory is to begin in the private sector, end up on the bench, and remain there until promotion and/or retirement, especially if you're 66 years old, as the "Judge" is.

I think the "Judge" sees the writing on the wall. Though he denies that his decision has anything to do with his bogus "ruling," striking down Prop. 8, I strongly suspect he's received so much criticism from this colleagues in the legal field for ignoring testimony from the plaintiff's own "experts," undermining their case against Prop. 8, that Walker knows he'll receive severe criticism from, and even censure by, the 9th Circuit and/or the Supreme Court.

So, Walker's getting out, while the getting is good. Claiming that he's leaving for the "private sector," is a convenient means of escaping a well deserved reprimand that would've blighted his record and severly limited his career options, either as a judge or an attorney in the private sector.

It is unconstitutional to vote on who have rights and who do not. Just because prop 8 was passed by a slight majority of hateful bigots in California does not mean that this is the law of the land. We can no more vote on the rights afforded to blacks or any other minority.

I pity those lost in a world of such hate and mistrust.


Some judge. Good riddance.

Dyoo and Verballistic,

Go back to 6th grade civics, take a remedial class, and then come back and post. We are a nation of 3 SEPARATE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT so that one doesn't hold a tyrannical rule over any other. That goes for the "tyranny of the majority."

Seriously, you have no idea what you are talking about so spend your time a little more productively and stop watching Glenn Beck.

dyoo should get his or her own radio show

i'd tune in

Anyone remember brown v board of education?

Prop 8 was unconstitutional to begin with and it goes against freedom of expression, the most troubling part is that prop 8 sponsors aka fascists, want to undo one of the few things they agreed on, the separation between state and religion.

Some "Americans" have such short memory.

Anyone remember brown v board of education?

Prop 8 was unconstitutional to begin with and it goes against freedom of expression, the most troubling part is that prop 8 sponsors aka fascists, want to undo one of the few things the founders agreed on, the separation between state and religion.

Some "Americans" have such short memory.

BLM, all intelligent people do respect his decision, only the ignorant don't. Respecting his decision and agreeing or disagreeing with it are not the same thing.

So, if a heterosexual judge rules for keeping gay marriage illegal, doesn't that make the judge biased? You can't say that a homosexual ruling against Prop 8 is biased, if the heterosexual is being unbiased if they rule for Prop 8.


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