Published on August 6, 2010 | by LawNews
Prof. Monroe Freedman Quoted in NYT Story on Judge Who Ruled California’s Prop 8 Unconstitutional
Conservative Jurist, With Independent Streak
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
The New York Times
August 5, 2010
Since those days, several published reports have stated that [Judge Vaughn R. Walker] is himself gay. In February, The San Francisco Chronicle called it an “open secret.” Critics have argued that his sexual orientation was a source of bias that should have disqualified him from hearing the Proposition 8 case. Judge Walker has declined to discuss the matter.
Monroe H. Freedman, an expert in legal ethics at Hofstra Law School, said that while bias could lead to recusal in rare cases, “you could say, ‘If a gay judge is disqualified, how about a straight judge?’ There isn’t anybody about whom somebody might say, ‘You’re not truly impartial in this case.’ ”
Mr. Freedman cited a 1975 opinion by Judge Constance Baker Motley of Federal District Court, an African-American jurist who was asked to disqualify herself from a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination. “If background or sex or race of each judge were, by definition, sufficient grounds for removal, no judge on this court could hear this case, or many others,” she wrote.