Prop 8 judge rejects motion he recuse self

Federal appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt on Thursday rejected a motion from attorneys defending Proposition 8 to recuse himself from participating in the case.

In a brief filed with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday, attorney Charles Cooper and his team complain that, because Reinhardt is married to the executive director of the Southern California ACLU and the ACLU has been involved in challenging Proposition 8, Reinhardt should disqualify himself from hearing the appeal.

The 9th Circuit announced the three-judge panel on Monday. It also includes Judge N. Randy Smith, who graduated from both Brigham Young University and its law school. Brigham Young is a Mormon-run institution. But, so far, no one has yet filed a motion suggesting that Smith recuse himself.

Reinhardt’s wife and the ACLU “have not only been active in seeking to redefine marriage in California and active in opposition to Proposition 8,” states the Cooper request, “but they have been active participants in this very lawsuit.” Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, says the brief “has an avowed interest in seeing Proposition 8 invalidated, an interest that unquestionably will be substantially affected by the outcome of this proceeding.”

In his two-page response Thursday, Reinhardt said he “will be able to rule impartially on this appeal” and believes a “reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts” would so conclude.

Yes on 8 attorneys will be before the three-judge panel on Monday morning at 10 a.m. Pacific time, when the panel is set to hear Yes on 8’s appeal of a lower court ruling that California’s same-sex marriage ban violates the federal constitution.

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