Worth ReadingJudge Vaughn Walker, the chief judge of the Northern California District of California, issued a notice on December 31 asking for public comment on revising a rule against televised courtroom hearings. The comment period only lasts until January 8 â€“ barely enough time for anyone to even know about the proposed change in court proceedings.
The significance of this revision was noted by Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Whelan outlines how Walker wants to turn this trial on Proposition 8 into a gay version of the Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee in 1925. The Scopes trial was engineered by the ACLU to get evolution taught in public schools alongside the biblical account of creation.
As Whelan notes:
Specifically, Walker is rushing to override longstanding prohibitions on televised coverage of federal trials so that he can authorize televised coverage of the Proposition 8 trial. Televised coverage would generate much greater publicity for ringmaster Walkerâ€™s circus. And, whether Walker desires the effect or is somehow blind to it, televised coverage would surely also heighten the prospect that witnesses and attorneys supporting Proposition 8 would face harassment, intimidation, and abuse.
In his eagerness to stack the deck against Proposition 8 and its defenders, Walker has resorted to procedural shenanigans and outright illegality.
Whelan points out federal policy against televised proceedings is done to guarantee citizen a right to a fair trial. Televising court proceedings can jeopardize the safety of trial participants and intimidate litigants, witnesses, and jurors.
Walker purports to be availing himself of a Ninth Circuit pilot program for televising district-court proceedings. This â€œpilot programâ€ was, wonder of wonders, announced out of nowhere on December 17 by Ninth Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski â€” who is no stranger to hijinks to advance the cause of same-sex marriage. Any intelligent and fair-minded judge would recognize that the obvious candidates for a pilot program would be low-profile cases that present no apparent risk of intimidation or abuse of trial participants and in which all parties consent to televised coverage. Only an idiot or a hardened ideological advocate for same-sex marriage â€” and Walker is no idiot â€” would imagine that the Proposition 8 case is a good candidate for the program.
If Judge Walker persists in failing to recognize that elementary fact, the national civics lesson that he will be providing is yet another reminder that too many of our federal judges willfully abuse their authority in order to advance their own political agendas.
Latest Shenanigans From Walker
After posting his first notice for public comment on a televised courtroom on Prop 8, Walker then quietly removed the notice on Jan. 5 and substituted it with another one. This newest post says that the court has already authorized televised proceedings under an â€œimmediate needâ€ provision of U.S. Code.
Whalen says this proves that Walker should disqualify himself from any involvement in Prop 8 because he lacks any partiality in the case. Whalen has written a rebuke to Walker over his unprofessional conduct.
â€œWalkerâ€™s politically-motivated move is reason to consider abolishing federal courts that are out of control and legislate from the bench,â€ said TVC Chairman, Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. â€œWalker is clearly biased and should resign from his post.â€