It's been exactly a year since a panel of 9th Circuit Court judges heard oral arguments on an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 decision striking down Prop. 8 for violating the U.S. Constitution. No decision has been rendered on that appeal, and none is likely soon.
But Thursday that same panel will hear two somewhat ancillary issues:
1. An appeal of a District court order to release the Prop. 8 trial tapes. Plaintiff's attorney Theodore Olson will argue the case for releasing the digital videos. Attorney Charles Cooper will speak on behalf of overturning the lower court's decision and keeping the tapes sealed.
2. An appeal of a decision rejecting efforts to have Judge Walker's decision vacated because he had a conflict of interest as a gay man in a long term relationship. Mr. Cooper will argue for Prop. 8 proponents, while David Boies will present the oral arguments on behalf of the lower court decision striking down the motion to vacate.
Both decisions were made in the past year by federal Judge James Ware, Chief Judge of the Northern District of California. Regarding the tapes, Judge Ware wrote that unsealing and releasing them to the public was in the public interest and necessary to maintain transparency in a case of such fundamental importance. His decision is supported by a coalition of media organizations, that includes Fox News, the NY Times and KQED among others. An attorney representing that coalition will participate in Thursday's oral arguments.