Tag: Andy Pugno
by Brian Leubitz
In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, the Matier and Ross column “outs” Judge Vaughn Walker:
The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay. (SF Chronicle)
For those in the San Francisco legal community, this isn’t really much of a surprise at all. It’s not that Vaughn Walker is closeted, more that he just doesn’t talk about it in the way that Antonin Scalia doesn’t talk about his sexuality. In 2010, we can, and should, be allowed to pursue whatever relationships, sexual or otherwise, without somebody discussing it as some sort of tawdriness.
This will most certainly make headlines in the right-wing media. The news hadn’t really filtered over there very much, so for many this will be the first time to hear about it. But state Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) makes an excellent point:
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has sponsored two bills to authorize same-sex marriage that were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that as far as he’s concerned, Walker’s background is a nonissue. “It seems curious to me,” he said, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop. 8, the justices’ sexual orientation “was never discussed.”(SF Chronicle)
Taking it that one step further, we all have a background. We all have some mix of racial, geographical, socioeconomic and other backgrounds. And they are all mixed up with who we are. We can’t take those labels off no matter how independent or fair you are. Yet some will still see this as sort of bias.
So, did anybody comment about Justice Alito’s gender when he wrote the outrageous opinion in Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire that said that under the Civil Rights Act women could not sue after 180 days from the discriminatory decision, even if they didn’t know about the decision for years? The decision that ultimately spurred the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act because it was so egregious.
The fact is that we can never separate ourselves from our identities. Judge Walker was randomly assigned this case, and has been reasonable througout. But that won’t stop Andy Pugno from questioning Walker in as sly of a way as he can think of:
“We are not going to say anything about that,” Pugno said.
He was quick to assert, however, that Prop. 8 backers haven’t gotten a fair shake from Walker in court. He cited both the judge’s order for the campaign to turn over thousands of pages of internal memos to the other side and Walker’s decision to allow the trial to be broadcast – both of which were overturned by higher courts.
“In many ways, the sponsors of Prop. 8 have been put at significant disadvantage throughout the case,” Pugno said. “Regardless of the reason for it.”(SF Chronicle)
Why were they at significant disadvantage? Oh right, because their “witnesses” were so excited to testify and so confident that they didn’t want their faces to be shown. And because the campaign team wanted to hide the lengths that they went to exploit the fear and biases of the 2008 electorate. When it comes down to it, their weakness was their case. Prop 8 creates 2 distinct classes of people, and whether that happens in this case or down the road, ultimately that will be seen as a clear violation of the Constitution.
by Robert Cruickshank
The Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs today filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission today against Andy Pugno, one of the key figures behind the effort to ban same-sex marriage in California.
The complaint, which is included below as a Scribd embed, alleges that Pugno misused public funds while on the staff of State Senator Pete Knight in the late 1990s to help the campaign to pass the so-called “Knight Initiative” – a California version of the Defense of Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage. This went to voters in November 2000 as Proposition 22 and was approved with 61% of the vote. This was struck down by the California Supreme Court in May 2008, and in turn Pugno and his allies in the leadership of the LDS and Catholic Churches put Prop 8 on the ballot to change the state constitution to ban marriage. The evidence suggests that not only was Pugno involved with those institutions involved in the planning and management of Prop 8 as we learned at the trial, but that their collaboration goes back into the late 1990s and may have violated state law.
Pugno is of course the general counsel to ProtectMarriage.com, and a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 5th District State Assembly seat. He is a key figure in the campaign strategy used for both Prop 22 and Prop 8, and for the legal defense of Prop 8 in both the California Supreme Court and in Judge Vaughn Walker’s federal courtroom. As longtime Trial Trackers know, Pugno also played a key role in trying get this website shut down by suing Courage Campaign over the logo we use at this site.
Here’s what led to the filing of the complaint. On Wednesday investigative reporter Robert Salladay published an article on Pugno’s involvement in the Prop 22 campaign while on the payroll of the California State Senate. Specifically, it was alleged that Pugno used public resources of the State Senate – phones, faxes, stationery – to vet the proposed initiative with Mormon leaders. Salladay included a letter Pugno wrote on February 26, 1998 to BYU law professor Lynn Wardle. The letter was on California State Senate letterhead and asked Wardle to review proposed ballot language with an eye toward ensuring it could pass at the ballot box. It was also reported that Pugno may have used public funds to travel to Arizona for a “strategic consultation” meeting with LDS leaders that same year.
That appears to be in violation of the Political Reform Act, which governs issues such as this. In fact, Salladay’s article quoted FPPC staff on this very point:
As for Pugno using Senate letterhead for a political issue – and asking Wardle to use the government fax machine and phone lines – the law is fairly strict. One regulation does allow for “incidental” campaign use, but Roman Porter, executive director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said about cases like this in general: “The use of public funds for campaign purposes is unlawful.”
Based on the letter and the other evidence reported, Rick Jacobs filed the official complaint against Pugno with the FPPC. He also wrote to Attorney General Jerry Brown seeking an investigation (see that letter here) and to the Secretary of the Senate, Greg Schmidt, seeking public disclosure of various documents related to Pugno’s campaign work while on the staff of Senator Knight (see that letter here).
Here’s what Rick Jacobs had to say about the filing:
The new and troubling disclosures appear to demonstrate willful disrespect for the laws and rules governing the conduct of public servants. If he broke California law, how can he expect to be elected to office to make California law? Andy Pugno needs to be investigated and any appropriate consequences levied for his actions.
We will keep you posted on what happens with the FPPC complaint and other requests for investigation and public disclosure we have filed.
by Brian Leubitz
My tireless job of saving you the dirty task of wading over to the protect marriage website is never done, or so it seems. Fear not, for I have digested some of the nonsense, and will try to decode some for my fellow Trial Trackers.
Pugno’s post wrapping up the testimony phase of the case was pretty simple, and boils down their case to one, relatively comprehensible, paragraph:
Meanwhile, we have shown that limiting marriage to its longstanding definition is rational because marriage benefits children, not just the adults. Whenever possible, it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father. And man-woman marriage is the only human relationship that can biologically serve that distinctive purpose. A same-sex relationship can never offer a child both a mother and father. It’s that simple.
And their case is really that simple. Sperm meets egg. That’s it. Finito. But take a look around our vast, diverse country, past the world that Protect Marriage and NOM want to show you. You’ll see single parents, couples who married far past child-rearing age, couples who had no intention of ever having children, and yup, some same-sex couples who do have children. There is no doubt that child-rearing is critical to our nation, but we should be considering all children, not just the ones Protect Marriage wants you to see. I’ll let the defense expert David Blankenhorn take it from here:
Gay marriage would extend a wide range of the natural and practical benefits of marriage to many lesbian and gay couples and their children. … By increasing the number of married couples who might be interested in adoption and foster care, same-sex marriage might well lead to fewer children growing up in state institutions and more growing up in loving adoptive and foster families.
Blankenhorn acknowledges that the Prop 8 harms same-sex couples, but argues the damage to the “institution of marriage” would be far worse if gays and lesbians were to marry. Yet throughout this trial, they have presented no evidence that shows that gay marriage harms straight marriage. No expert who could point to any studies that clearly state the case for that supposition. Quite to the contrary, Blankenhorn looked lost on on cross-examination when David Boies questioned him about the subject.
Pugno, throughout this trial, has repeatedly referred back to the rational basis test, and it is true that is known as a rather weak test. But the fact remains that the Prop 8 team must, at the very least, show that there was a legitimate governmental interest. Religion, idealism, traditionalism, these are not legitimate governmental interests in and of themselves.
Look, I can deal with some people hating me. It’s their right. But as the legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes said nearly a century ago, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”