Prop 8 backers target trial judge in urging appeal

Posted by Lisa Leff of The Associated Press on

"Backers of California's freedom to marry ban urged a federal appeals court to overturn the trial judge who struck down Proposition 8 by arguing late Friday that his consideration of evidence was 'egregiously selective and one-sided.'

"In written arguments to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the ban's sponsors alleged that Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker 'quite willfully' disregarded a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court precedent and other relevant information when he decided the voter-approved measure was an unconstitutional violation of gay Californians' civil rights.

"'The district court based its findings almost exclusively on an uncritical acceptance of the evidence submitted by Plaintiffs' experts, and simply ignored virtually everything — judicial authority, the works of eminent scholars past and present in all relevant academic fields, extensive historical and documentary evidence — that ran counter to its conclusions,' they wrote in their 134-page opening brief.

"Lawyers for the two couples who successfully sued in Walker's court are due to file their responses next month. A three-judge 9th Circuit panel has scheduled oral arguments in the case for the first week in December and put Walker's order requiring the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on hold until it renders its own decision.

"The court papers filed Friday contained unbridled criticism of Walker's handling of the first federal trial to examine if the U.S. Constitution prevents states from limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

... "American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin, whose organization organized and funded the lawsuit that led to Walker's ruling, said he remains confident that it would be upheld in the 9th Circuit and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.

"'The fact remains that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, as was proven conclusively and unequivocally through a full federal trial,' Griffin said. 'There is no getting around the fact that the court's decision was based on our nation's most fundamental principles, and that the Constitution does not permit unequal treatment under the law.'"

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