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The California Supreme Court had Judge Loren McMaster’s back Wednesday. When the Sacramento County Superior Court judge upheld an expansion of domestic partner rights last year, his ruling prompted a fledgling grassroots effort to knock him off the bench, and an appeal. But the high court, minus an absent Justice Janice Rogers Brown, declined a petition for review in Knight v. Schwarzenegger, S133961. That leaves in place a 3rd District Court of Appeal opinion that concluded McMaster had reached the decision “compelled by the law.” The Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund had argued that state politicians illegally amended a voter-passed initiative when they passed Assembly Bill 205, essentially treating same-sex couples too much like married couples. Prop 22, passed in 2000, states that California only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. “The Supreme Court sustained a decision that essentially allows the Legislature to play semantic games in order to overrule the will of the people,” said Robert Tyler, who represented the fund. Attorney General Bill Lockyer was “personally very happy with the result,” a spokesman said. David Codell, a Los Angeles attorney who jumped into the case to defend the law on behalf of Equality California, said he was particularly pleased to have the 3rd District opinion stand because it contrasts the rights given to domestic partners and spouses and can be cited in future cases. (Codell also argued on behalf of 12 pairs of domestic partners in Knight, including San Francisco Superior Court Judges Donna Hitchens and Nancy Davis.) Though McMaster’s critics have a little longer to get a recall question on the electoral ballot, the official proponent says the effort has already been abandoned. After the 3rd District’s affirmation of McMaster, and a San Francisco Superior Court judge’s recent conclusion that the state ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, said Tony Andrade, Judge McMaster was no longer “an island.”

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