On Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in California’s Proposition 8 case. It was the latest chapter in this judicial farce that has become a tragedy for our legal system and our freedom.
Judging by the lighthearted tone of Monday’s proceedings, you would think the topic of discussion was what color the courthouse should be painted. But that should come as no surprise when you remember who is presiding over this matter.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s treatment of this case has been shameful from the beginning. He and everyone remotely familiar with this case knows that he should have recused himself, and perhaps that is one reason he treated the matter as a joke, since the mere fact that he is there is a joke.
Reinhardt is married to Ramona Ripston, who is the head of the Southern California office of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that has filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. She stands to benefit from the outcome of this case, and, yet, Judge Reinhardt strongly believes that there is no “appearance of impropriety.”
Why? Well, if you want to know the reasons he believes there would be no appearance of impropriety, you will have to wait. The issue apparently is not that important for Judge Reinhart, who dismissed the Appellant’s motion for him to disqualify himself by simply saying that he will not and promised to explain later. “I will be able to rule impartially on this appeal, and I will do so. The motion is therefore DENIED,” he declared blissfully, “for reasons that [he] shall provide in a memorandum to be filed in due course.”
“In due course” meaning “whenever he feels like it” (“ha, ha, ha”).
This is not fiction folks. This is the same case that just got out of proceedings at the District Court, where serious questions where brought after it was discovered that the district court judge was himself a homosexual (for more on that, read “The Prop 8 Case Charade”).
So the chicanery continues.
During oral arguments, the same gamesmanship continued. In between jokes, Judge Reinhardt seemed to be pushing over and over again a solution whereby the court could actually uphold the lower court’s decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional without saying that it violates the federal Constitution.