On Aug. 4, 2010, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that the ban discriminates against gay and lesbian couples and violates the U.S. Constitution.
It's not often that a judge makes a name for themselves here in the Bay Area, but when it comes to Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker that is not the case.
Most people who follow the news in the past year will know his name because he is the legal face of California's Proposition 8.
Wednesday, Judge Walker announced he will retire from the court come February.
Back in August, Walker overturned Proposition 8, which is the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. He ruled it violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection.
His ruling is now being appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Walker, 66, was appointed to the court by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and was previously in private practice in San Francisco.
He said he plans to return to the private sector after leaving the bench.
Walker notified President Obama of his decision in a letter Wednesday.
It read in part: "Concluding 21 years of judicial service, I leave the bench with the highest respect and regard for the federal judiciary, its judges and their staff and the essential role they fulfill in our constitutional system."
The new chief judge will be U.S. District Judge James Ware of San Jose.
Bay City News contributed to this report.