James Ware, Chief Judge of the Northern District of California, today issued an order expediting the hearing schedule for efforts have Judge Walker's Prop. 8 decision striking down Prop. 8 vacated. "Due to the nature of the Motion," Ware wrote, "the Court finds good cause to expedite and specifically set a hearing on the Motion."
Prop. 8 proponents say Walker, as a gay man in a committed relationship, had a stake in the outcome of his own decision. They say in a motion to toss out that ruling, that Walker at the very least should have acknowledged the conflict, and perhaps should have recused himself.
In his order today Judge Ware, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, gave parties until May 13th to respond to the motion to vacate. A hearing date is scheduled for June 13th at 9 am in San Francisco.
The Prop. 8 lawsuit ended up in Walker's courtroom by a totally random process of assigning cases to judges. It's computer generated. There have been rumors about Walker's sexual orientation for many years, but he never acknowledged he was gay until after he retired from the bench. He spoke of his 10-year relationship with a physician in a Reuters article that appeared earlier this month.
Legal experts are highly skeptical that Judge Ware will set aside Walker's decision. As one pointed out, all judges have a sexual orientation and a marital status giving them a theoretical stake in the ruling on same sex marriage.