Judicial ethics and rules of disclosure require judges to reveal whether they have a personal interest in the outcome of a case before them. Supporters of Prop. 8 argue for that reason Judge Vaughn Walker should have disclosed he was in a long term relationship with another man -- and whether he ever intended to marry him.
That issue is now in the hands of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Charles Cooper, an attorney for ProtectMarriage.com, told an Appeals Court panel Thursday that a reasonable person could conclude that Judge Walker had a conflict of interest. But several judges questioned that notion.
"A married judge would never be able to hear a divorce?" asked Judge Michael Hawkins.
Arguing for opponents of Prop. 8, attorney David Boies said the disclosure standard promoted by the other side would require any minority judge to reveal whether he or she might take advantage of a pro-civil rights ruling.
Besides the issue of disclosure, the panel took up another question: whether the Prop. 8 trial tapes be unsealed and made public.
Both of these issues will likely be settled before this same panel rules on the fundamental question -- whether Proposition. 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.