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California judge who struck down Proposition 8 to speak in Bloomington

October 28, 2011

A former judge who struck down Proposition 8, the California voter initiative banning same-sex marriage, will deliver a lecture titled "On the Bench and in the Game" at Indiana University Maurer School of Law Nov. 3.

Vaughn R. Walker, former chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled on Aug. 4, 2010, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Proposition 8 was a voter initiative constitutional amendment that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Walker is the first known gay person to serve as a federal judge. As such, his decision generated controversy not only for its substance, but also because supporters of Proposition 8 asserted that Walker should have recused himself from the case.

A federal judge for 21 years, Walker decided many high-profile cases in civil liberties, securities fraud, national security and other arenas. He retired from the bench in February 2011.

Walker's remarks will draw on his diverse experience and focus on the role of judges in dealing with politically controversial issues. His ability to discuss the Proposition 8 decision will be limited because it is currently being appealed.

Walker's lecture will be followed by commentary from Charles G. Geyh, associate dean for research and John F. Kimberling Professor of Law at the Maurer School of Law, and Judy Failer, IU associate professor of political science.

The lecture will be at 3 p.m. in the Moot Court Room, 211 S. Indiana Ave., Bloomington. A reception will follow in Room 310. Both events are free and open to the public.

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