3 Diverse Judges Selected for Prop 8 Appeal

A conservative, a moderate and a liberal will rule on same-sex marriage.

By Mike Anderson
|  Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010  |  Updated 5:14 AM PDT
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Tim Chiu (left), his daughter Lauren Chiu and Lars Haaland attend a celebration at the Billy De Frank LGBT Community Center in San Jose, Calif., after federal judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8 on Aug. 4, 2010. Chiu and Haaland were married in 2008.

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The next big decision in California's same-sex marriage battle is in the hands of three politically diverse judges.

The randomly selected panel announced in San Francisco on Monday includes a liberal, moderate and conservative from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

They will rule on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the state's high-profile ban on same-sex marriage. An appeal hearing is scheduled to start on Dec. 6 in San Francisco and will be televised.

Stephen Reinhardt, 79, is one of the most liberal members of the court. The Los Angeles man is a former private lawyer and the senior member of the panel. Reinhardt was appointed to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter and took office in 1980.

Conservative Randy Smith, 61, is a former state court judge in Idaho. He was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007.

Moderate Michael Hawkins, 65, could be the swing vote in the case. He's a former U.S. attorney from Arizona and also a former private lawyer. Hawkins was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Voters approved the controversial Proposition 8 in 2008, limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman.

In August 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the measure unconstitutional, saying it violates the guarantee of equal treatment and due process. His ruling was stayed during the appeal.

Whatever the three judges find won't necessarily be final. The decision will likely be appealed again to an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, and again after that to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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