The federal judge who attracted national attention for his decision last month striking down California’s Proposition 8 and lambasting supporters of traditional marriage, has announced that he will retire from the bench in February.
As Chief Judge for the Northern District of California, Vaughn R. Walker presided over the first federal court trial involving a legal challenge to a state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The San Francisco judge found voter-approved ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, ruling that it violates the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples.
The ruling been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Walker’s decision is expected to ultimately force the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue of same-sex marriage.
Walker joined the federal bench in 1990 after he was nominated by president George H.W. Bush, a Republican, and has served as chief judge of the court since 2004.
He plans to return to the private sector, where he was a partner in a large firm before spending 21 years on the federal bench. Walker will be succeeded as Chief Judge by current District Judge James Ware.