Today in San Francisco, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker will begin presiding over Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, a case that could erase the will of California’s voters by finding Proposition 8’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. But as Heritage Foundation Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and Ronald Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese explains in today’s New York Times, some of Judge Walker’s pre-trial rulings have already made history:
But most disquieting for supporters of traditional marriage is a series of pretrial rulings issued by Judge Vaughn R. Walker that have the effect of putting the sponsors of Proposition 8, and the people who voted for it, on trial.
Judge Walker’s decisions have been surprising because they differ from those of other judges who have previously scrutinized marriage laws — in Iowa, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and elsewhere in California, for example. In those instances, the courts have decided legal challenges to state marriage laws based on legislative history, scholarly articles and testimony by social scientists and other experts. They have, in some cases, looked for evidence of legislative intent in the statements published in official voter information pamphlets.
But in this case, Judge Walker has ruled that things like TV advertisements, press releases and campaign workers’ statements are also relevant evidence of what the voters intended. The judge went so far as to order the Proposition 8 campaign to disclose private internal communications about messages that were considered for public use but never actually used. He has even ordered the campaign to turn over copies of all internal records and e-mail messages relating to campaign strategy.
Most troubling, Judge Walker has also ruled that the trial will investigate the Proposition 8 sponsors’ personal beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality. No doubt, the plaintiffs will aggressively exploit this opportunity to assert that the sponsors exhibited bigotry toward homosexuals, or that religious views motivated the adoption of Proposition 8. They’ll argue that prohibiting gay marriage is akin to racial discrimination.
Equating opponents of same-sex marriage with racists has already destroyed civil debate and even created violence. As Heritage has previously documented, evidence is accumulating that crimes of vandalism, physical and verbal intimidation, invasion of privacy, disruption of employment and threats of serious physical harm have occurred against people who oppose same-sex marriage. Will Judge Walker’s unprecedented intrusive orders increase this violence?