Meet the Honorable
Judge Vaughn R. Walker

To learn more about Judge Walker’s journey to and time on the NDCA federal bench: 

Read the full transcript to his oral history!

Judge Vaughn Walker, a veteran of the NDCA federal bench for over 20 years, and its Chief Judge from 2004 to 2010, oversaw thousands of cases during his time on the bench. These cases spanned a variety of topics including challenges to the NSA’s warrantless searches under the Bush Administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program in the post-9/11 world, and a bid for compensation from former WW II-era prisoners of war who endured Japanese forced labor. 

But it appeared at the outset that Walker’s judgeship might never get off the ground in part due to his representation of the U.S. Olympic Committee in a trademark lawsuit challenging the use by gay and lesbian athletes of the name “Gay Olympics.”  

One factor not revealed at the time was that Walker is gay.  The irony of his struggle for confirmation to the bench came with his last major trial: a challenge to the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved initiative that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.  Walker would write a landmark decision declaring the initiative, Proposition 8, unconstitutional and clearing the way for same-sex marriage in the state.  The U.S. Supreme Court let his 2010 decision stand.