Prop 8 appeal judges make a mixed ideological bag

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Patricia Nazario/KPCC

John Trover waves a rainbow flag in West Hollywood on Aug. 4, 2010, to celebrate federal court Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to overturn Prop 8.

The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday named the three judges who’ll hear arguments over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that bans same-sex marriages. They cover the ideological spectrum. The hearing is Dec. 6.

The randomly selected panel includes Stephen Reinhardt, who’s perhaps the most liberal judge on the appeals court. He is also one of its most senior. President Carter appointed Reinhardt, 79, three decades ago.

Judge Randy Smith, a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, may serve as Reinhardt’s counterweight on the panel. Appointed three years ago, the 61-year-old Smith is one of the court’s newest members.

The third judge is Michael Daly Hawkins, a moderate President Clinton appointed in 1994. He could end up the swing vote.

The panel will consider an appeal of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8. It will review two questions: whether anti-gay marriage groups have a right to appeal it; and whether the measure violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection and Due Process clauses.

The gay marriage ban remains in effect during the appeal.

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