U.S. Circuit Court Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt today denied a motion to recuse himself from the Proposition 8 same-sex marriage federal appeal hearing Monday.
Proposition 8 author and attorney Andy Pugno also said today that measure supporters won't keep pressing to get Reinhardt removed.
"We accept Judge Reinhardt's decision and plan no further action," Pugno said. "But we felt we had no choice but to ask him to remove himself in light of his wife's extensive involvement in this very case."
Lawyers for Proposition 8 supporters filed a motion Wednesday for Reinhardt to step down from the three-judge panel that will preside over the appeal because his wife is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
Because the ACLU chapter and Ramona Ripston, Reinhardt's wife, have been actively involved in the state and federal challenges against Proposition 8, "Judge Reinhardt's impartiality might reasonably be questioned," the measure's attorneys said in papers filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Reinhardt, in an initial written response today, denied the motion for recusal and said "I have not hesitated to recuse from cases in the past when doing so was warranted by circumstances."
The 79-year-old judge listed a number of cases as examples. In the case of the Proposition 8, he said, "I will be able to rule impartially on this appeal, and I will do so." He said he will provide a memorandum "in due course" detailing his reasons.
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