SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/AP) – A federal judge on a panel hearing an appeal over the legality of California’s same-sex marriage ban said Thursday he would not step down from the case as Prop 8 sponsors has hoped.

Backers of the ban had asked Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to step down because he’s married to Ramona Ripton, head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Southern California office. The ACLU is an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8.

In a brief order issued Thursday, Reinhardt refused to recuse himself from the three-judge panel that will decide whether a lower court was right to strike down Proposition 8.

“I will be able to rule impartially on this appeal, and I will do so,” Reinhardt wrote in his decision to deny the recusal motion.

Reinhardt cited several other cases where he had recused himself when “warranted by circumstances” including a suit against Boeing over its role in the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition of terrorism suspects.

A lawyer for, the group behind the appeal, now says it “accepts the judge’s decision.”

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Professor Stephen Vladeck, a former clerk on the 9th Circuit who now teaches American University’s Washington College of Law, sees the motion to disqualify as a strategic move should the lower court’s verdict be upheld.

“The more that Prop 8 supporters can sort of draw attention to his role, I think the better the chances are of getting the Supreme Court to ultimately take the case,” Vladeck said.

The three judge panel is scheduled to hear arguments in the appeal on December 6.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. Mark says:

    You know, we used to say that one of the reasons the USA is superior to most nations is that we have a fair justice system. How fair is it when judges refuse to step aside is clear cases of conflict of interest? And what about the still-festering Mehserle case? Not a single black on the jury and a judge who dismissed the lion’s share of the possible sentence on a whim. And have we forgotten how the Supreme Court stole the 2000 presidential election from Al Gore and handed it to G. W. Bush? We are no better than Iran in terms of true justice. This is very depressing for this disillusioned patriot.

  2. RichardB says:

    The Law shoudl work for people, not against them by denying an entire segement of our society a right which others have. The same kinds of conservative arguments were put forth in order to block interracial marriages. Bottom line here is that conservatives are trying to imppose their religious notions on peiople by hiding behind the skirts of religion. They still have not[produced one shred of convincing evidence tha same-gender marriage will somehow damage our country. In countries where gay people have full or nearly-full marriage rights no harm has come. Same-gender marriage will not destroy the USA, but denying people full and equal rights just might wind up being a serious detrriment since it shows that we say one thing, but do something quite the opposite. Our Declaration declares “all men [now understood to include women] are created equal”. Where I come from that means just what it says. There can be no half-measures here.

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