Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Good News: Ninth Circuit Says Prop 8 Case Judge "Probably Violated Constitution"

A late breaking story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has suspended Judge Vaughn Walker's order that backers of Prop 8 had to disclose their internal campaign communications. Even the ACLU thought Judge Walker was out of bounds.

"Prop. 8 backers likely to win disclosure fight

(12-03) 17:48 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge probably violated the Constitution when he ordered backers of Proposition 8, the initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California, to give their campaign strategy documents to opponents trying to overturn the measure, an appeals court said Thursday.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco suspended the order that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued in October against backers of Prop. 8, which state voters approved in November 2008.

Walker said lawyers for two same-sex couples and a gay-rights group were entitled to see internal memos and e-mails between Yes on 8 strategists to look for evidence that the campaign had sought to exploit anti-gay bias. Such evidence would strengthen the plaintiffs' claim that the ballot measure was discriminatory and thus unconstitutional.

Prop. 8 sponsors argued that their discussions were constitutionally protected and that orders such as Walker's would discourage candid communications in political campaigns.

The three-judge appeals court panel said the sponsors "have made a strong showing that they are likely to succeed" in their arguments. The court, which held a hearing on Walker's order on Tuesday, said it would issue a ruling soon."

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