SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The random selection of three judges to hear next week’s appeal in the Proposition 8 federal case could not have gone much better for supporters of same-sex marriage.

There are 47 judges on the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, and three of them will hear the appeal of the district court ruling that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

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The three include one of the court’s most liberal, senior members – Stephen Reinhardt, a more moderate Democrat – Michael Hawkins, and the court’s newest judge, Bush appointee – Norman Randy Smith.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

“You never know who you’re going to get with a three-judge panel, but for those who believe that Prop. 8 should be struck down got about as good of a panel as they could have hoped for,” said
American University Law Professor Steven Vladeck, who clerked at the 9th Circuit.

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Vladeck said this panel is likely to give the supporters of Prop 8 a pretty good grilling.

“Judge Reinhardt and Judge Hawkins are both thought of as solid Democratic judges,” said Vladeck. “Judge Reinhardt is actually often pilloried by the right for being one of the more liberal judges on the Ninth Circuit. But even Judge Smith is a fairly independent-minded jurist.”

The Supreme Court is no fan of Judge Reinhardt’s though, which could help Prop 8’s authors if and when the case reaches Washington.

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