Tag Archives: Mark Herring

Trump betrays the American promise

Protest at the Dulles Airport, VA

Protest at the Dulles Airport, VA

The nation and the world recoils from the Tyrant in the West Wing, Mr. Donald Trump, who issued an illegal and unconstitutional executive order, universally decried at home and abroad as discriminatory, for barring legal immigrants with visas and green cards, without any advice beforehand from the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection.

This executive fiat targeted predominantly Muslim nations, namely, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, while excluding other Muslim nations including those where Mr. Trump has business interests.

Mr. Trump knew that he was usurping existing immigration law passed by the U.S. Congress, and fundamental constitutional standards of fairness, targeting Muslims he had every reason to believe presented absolutely no threat to this nation because they had already been vetted and found to present no threat to the United States.

Mr. Donald Trump issued his fiat last Friday, in the late afternoon, ironically enough on Holocaust Memorial Day, guaranteeing the inhumane chaos he plainly hoped to create.

From last Friday through the weekend, our nation’s airports were in disarray with government agents offering no resistance to Mr. Trump’s lawless fiat.  Continue reading

Virginia is already there! What about other states?

Mark Herring - "local boy" makes good

Mark Herring – “local boy” makes good

Thank God for the Millennials and all those who are not so young but who are tolerant of difference.

We should also thank “a local boy” who used to sell eggs as a kid door to door on Leesburg’s Canby Road for pennies an egg, who went on to study law, began a small practice in Leesburg, served as counsel to Lovettsville, was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, then elected to the Virginia State Senate and finally elected state wide to become Virginia’s Attorney General.

That’s Mark Herring who decided, as our newly minted Attorney General, that treating same sex marriage differently as a state than other marriages was not equal protection of the law, and, as a result, at his direction, Virginia reversed field in pending litigation and the Courts agreed to recognize same sex marriages.

Last week, Mark sat in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber to hear oral argument on what should be the law of the land – for every state.

Mark came away optimistic that we are going to bend toward equal protection and individual liberty nation-wide. Continue reading

More marriage news that will upset Bob Marshall

yardsignsUpdate: As expected, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has filed a motion to withdraw the state’s brief in defense of Nevada’s ban on same sex marriage. A statement from Republican Governor Brian Sandoval’s office says “based upon the advice of the Attorney General’s office and their interpretation of relevant case law, it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court.” The only remaining party willing to defend the amendment is now the “Coalition for the Protection of Marriage,” the third party intervenor responsible for putting it on the ballot in 2002. Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry that such an intervenor does not have standing to appeal, it’s likely that a Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of the couples seeking to overturn the ban will be the end of the line for the so-called “Protection of Marriage Initiative.” The plaintiffs are seeking an expedited hearing.

Now, can we finally put to rest the notion that our Attorney General is “out there on a limb by himself,” per Mr. Marshall?

(Originally published January 27, 2014) Over the weekend there were two more developments toward the ultimate demise of anti-marriage state measures like Virginia’s Marshall-Newman Amendment.

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The story behind “children do best with a mom and a dad”

bostic-raineyThose wailing over one of the consequences of the recent election, the change in Virginia’s position on the Marshall-Newman amendment, would have us believe that there would be no one else defending it in court. But of course that wasn’t true. District court Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s order for the oral arguments in Bostic v. Rainey that took place Tuesday shows that the time allotted to defenders of the amendment was double the time allotted to the plaintiffs seeking to overturn it. In addition, attorneys for proponents of the amendment were provided by the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), a well-funded legal “ministry” that claims to win nearly 80% of its court cases. The problem faced by amendment proponents was not a lack of competent legal counsel. The problem was the lack of a constitutionally permissible justification for walling off a class of people from the fundamental right of marriage, based only on their orientation.

An argument from religion, or tradition, or one based on moral disapproval of gay people, or a wish to discourage gay people from existing, simply won’t survive scrutiny; those days are over. What the proponents of such bans have to show is that there is an important state interest that justifies treating people who want to marry a partner of the same sex differently from people who want to marry a partner of a different sex. And the argument they’ve settled on is the idea that “children do better with a mom and a dad.” You can see the talking point prominently displayed on the signs of protesters outside the courthouse; it was also expected to do the heavy lifting inside. As VFF’s Victoria Cobb put it, the proponent’s attorneys argued that “the government’s interest in marriage is in the upbringing of children by a mother and a father.”

The obvious problem with this argument is that the social science research and the professional medical and child welfare associations say that it’s not true: Children raised by two parents of the same sex actually do as well, or better in some cases, than children raised by two opposite sex parents.

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No, they don’t really care about legal authority.

Attorney General Mark Herring gently points out the obvious in an op-ed published in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:

It is completely within the power of the attorney general to refuse to defend in court a law that he has determined to be unconstitutional after an independent, rigorous analysis. This was the position of former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who said “I will not defend what I, in my judgment, deem to be an unconstitutional law.” In fact, just last year, Cuccinelli declined to defend Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Opportunity Educational Institution after he determined it to be unconstitutional. It should be noted that some of the loudest critical voices today were silent then.

This understanding of the attorney general’s role has not been controversial until I applied it to Virginia’s marriage ban. Two of the past three elected attorneys general declined to defend state laws, and conservative jurists such as John Roberts, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia have affirmed this role of attorneys general. This tells me that critics are not actually opposed to this long-established power of the attorney general, but are in fact opposed to its application to marriage equality.

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“Bob Marshall is not, and never has been, an attorney.”

I continue to be reminded, sometimes several times in one day, of the comment in which anti-gay and anti-labor activist lawyer James Young informed me that “Bob Marshall is not, and never has been, an attorney.”

It explained a lot, and for that I thank him. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the following:

Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, said today that he is working with lawyers to file a complaint with the Virginia State Bar against Attorney General Mark R. Herring over his refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in federal court this week.

Marshall sponsored the 2006 amendment to the state constitution.

“I want the same discipline meted out against him that would be meted out against any attorney similarly situated,” Marshall said in an interview Monday afternoon.

“If after a pleading has been filed an attorney decided that his client is guilty, what would the bar do with that attorney? And they better not go soft because he is the attorney general,” he said.

I suppose that never having been an attorney could explain Marshall being unaware that the legal obligations of a private attorney and a public one, such as an attorney general, are quite different (although that hasn’t prevented me from being aware of it – and I don’t sit on a legislative body). Surely Marshall has some attorney friends in the House of Delegates who could have explained this to him:

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Bob Marshall’s marriage meltdown

bob_marshallBob Marshall has said some dumb things over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him embarrass himself more than he did yesterday on the Kojo Nnamdi show.

Marshall was interviewed for a segment about Attorney General Mark Herring’s determination that Virginia’s anti-marriage amendment and statutes are unconstitutional. His remarks start out calmly enough, if poorly reasoned. Then the wheels come off. The entire segment starts at the 9:20 mark; the interview with Marshall is introduced at the 10:56 mark.

Marshall begins this rhetorical circus by asking whether Tim Kaine, governor in 2006-7 when the Marshall-Newman Amendment was enacted, “consciously signed a bill that violated the Fourteenth Amendment.” This is simply a stupid question on its face. Of course he did. How would any unconstitutional law ever become law if this didn’t happen? Every governor in every state that enacted similar amendments signed a bill that violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Does Marshall believe that it’s impossible, by definition, for anything enacted by a legislature or popular vote to be unconstitutional? Because that seems like a problem.

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“The injustice of Virginia’s position in Loving will not be repeated this time.”

Last week, in anticipation of this morning’s announcement by Attorney General Mark Herring’s office that he will not be defending the infamous “Marshall-Newman Amendment,” Republican delegates were already trying to lay the groundwork for an end run to get their way:

“[T]he attorney general’s job is like a judge. A judge will tell you, ‘Look, I might not agree with the law, but my job is basically not to make law. It is to look at what the law was [and what] the legislature intended,’ ” House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said.

That’s right. AG Herring looked at the Virginia constitutional and statutory ban on same-sex marriage, and what the legislature clearly intended by it, and made the determination that it was unconstitutional. Given the recent rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that affirm the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor, it’s clear that the Virginia amendment does, and was intended to, violate the due process and equal protection rights of Virginia same sex couples under the Fourteenth Amendment. There is a reason, after all, that the legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson, who so brilliantly argued the Prop 8 case on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, chose Virginia as their next venue: Virginia’s anti-marriage amendment is considered the most extremely worded and restrictive in the nation.

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Trick or Treat – another election

Halloween_Trick_or_TreatWe Irish know in our genetic sinews, no scholarship need be considered, that Halloween, or all Hallows’ Eve, springs from the medieval Gaelic Samhain, marking the end of harvest and the beginning of the darker half of the year.

It is little wonder then that we have most of our elections as the natural light dims and darkness grows.

In one tradition of All Hallows’ Eve, souls wander the earth until this evening for their one last chance to gain vengeance.

This election season we have the feeling our candidates are making the holy day’s danse macabre their inspiring motivator, calculating a revenge comprised of how they may get theirs — at our expense.

The right to vote that we “enjoy” is a forced choice made before the primary or caucus is held, the product of back room paper and power shuffling that pre-selected whom we may consider.

The districts themselves are drawn not rationally but by the force of numbers in the line-drawing state legislature with one clear purpose – to pre-determine each election’s outcome.

Our voting discretion is “informed” by tall yarns, name calling and distracting issues that make the blood boil.

One clamoring voice outshouts another with high cost hard copy and electronic propaganda that muddle or drown out any contrary fact or opinion.

The election “trick” is the threat of how bad it will be if you don’t choose the imperious “me.”

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Mark Herring Stands With Veterans

Mark Herring does so much for us here in Loudoun from the Virginia Senate that many of his accomplishments for the wider commonwealth get under-reported and under-appreciated here in his home county. Given some of the things in the news, I thought it might be nice to post something positive for a change, and Sen. Herring’s service to Virginia’s veterans seemed an obvious choice.

Virginia Guard recognizes top units, receives resolutions from General Assembly

Sen. Herring Awarding the Virginia National Guard a Commendation Resolution.


For example, Sen. Herring is the Co-Chair of the Virginia National Guard Caucus in the General Assembly, and has been instrumental in making financial help for veterans easier to provide. During the 2010 Session, Senator Herring sponsored and passed legislation that exempts payments to individuals from the Virginia Military Family Relief Fund from state income tax.

He has stood up for the rights of our veterans and their families. In 2008, he sponsored and passed the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act, which protects military parents from losing important child custody and visitation rights as a result of their deployment out of the Commonwealth. And in 2011, he sponsored and passed a bill to enhance the Military Parents Equal Protection Act by allowing deployed military parents to delegate their visitation rights with children to a member of their family while they are stationed overseas. Indeed, Sen. Herring supports the service of all military families.

Now those are Virginia family values.
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