In what could be a minor blow to the cause of gay-marriage haters, U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware has notified lawyers in the ongoing Prop 8 battle that he'd like to videotape the hearing on August 29 at which he will be deciding whether to make public the digital video recordings made by Judge Vaughn Walker in the earlier federal trial. Judge Walker hoped to upload and/or live-stream video of the earlier trial, a plan that was quashed by the Supreme Court. It was announced last month that when the Prop 8 appeal hearing comes to the California Supreme Court on September 6, that hearing will be televised.
Media organizations and lawyers for the plaintiffs in that trial -- representing two couples who successfully sued to overturn the state-wide ban on gay marriage -- are all pushing for the unsealing of Walker's tapes. The hope seems to be that hearing the actual arguments play out will help sway public opinion. The pro-Prop 8 camp tried to claim in Judge Ware's court in June that Walker acted illegally in showing his tapes during public speeches following the case, but Ware ruled against them. He also ruled that Walker's decision must stand, despite their argument that he was biased because he is homosexual.
In any event, the status of Prop 8 remains in legal limbo until the result of the September 6 hearing, as there remains a stay on Walker's ruling pending an appeal. There remains an open procedural question as to whether Prop 8's backers even have legal ground to stand on in order to appeal the federal court's decision, without the support of the governor or attorney general, who have accepted Walker's ruling and do not care to participate in such an appeal -- in other words, why would some private individuals have the right to enforce a state law that the state itself doesn't want to enforce. Stay tuned.
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