Federal appeals judge declines to recuse himself from Proposition 8 case

[JURIST] Judge Stephen Reinhardt [FJC profile] of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Thursday denied a motion [texts, PDF] to recuse himself from the three-judge panel that will hear arguments on Proposition 8 [text, PDF], California's same-sex marriage ban. Proposition 8 supporters had sought Reinhardt's disqualification because of his wife's role as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] for Southern California, which has been involved in the Proposition 8 battle both publicly and in a private consulting capacity. The motion argued that 28 USC § 455 [text] requires Reinhardt to step down, even if he does not feel or act with a bias. Reinhardt denied the motion, writing, "I am certain that "a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would [not] conclude that [my] impartiality might reasonably be questioned," noting that he has recused himself in other cases "when doing so was warranted by the circumstances." The Proposition 8 supporters do not plan to appeal [AP report]. Arguments are scheduled for Monday.

A federal judge struck down Proposition 8 [JURIST report in August. In October, lawyers representing the city of San Francisco submitted a brief [text, PDF] arguing that Proposition 8 is irrational under California state law [JURIST report]. In September, officials in Imperial County, California, also submitted a brief [JURIST report] appealing the federal court's decision finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The appeal came just days after supporters of Proposition 8 filed a brief [JURIST report] seeking standing in order to file the appeal. Earlier in the month, a judge for the California Court of Appeal, 3rd Appellate District [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Attorney General Jerry Brown [official websites] is required to appeal the decision of the district court. In August, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit issued a stay [JURIST report] of district court's decision, pending appeal. Schwarzenegger, Brown and others filed motions [JURIST report] opposing the stay request. Schwarzenegger and Brown were originally defendants in the lawsuit, and their refusal to oppose the stay left defendant-intervenors Protect Marriage [advocacy website] and other groups to defend the law. The remaining defendant-intervenors have indicated they will, if necessary, appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.