There was barely enough time yesterday to post Thursday's News Stand, so I omitted the commentary. However, a few of the articles merit mention and further comment. Foremost was the Richmond Times-Dispatch article that quoted our president, Victoria Cobb, about the incredibly important ruling from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld Virginia's law banning partial birth infanticide. The Washington Post and Daily Press also reported on this most significant judicial decision.
The court's 6-5 vote puts into focus the maxim that elections matter. The 4th Circuit once was the country's most reliably conservative (i.e., constitutionally sound) court. But a retirement or two, a feel good appointment of liberal Judge Roger Gregory by President George W. Bush in the first days of his presidency (when he was all about "reaching out") — and enthusiastically supported by then-Senator George Allen — followed by his inability to overcome a liberal Senate blockade of subsequent appointments, has made for a closely divided court. Think President Obama will nominate a conservative to this court? Not a chance — and he will have plenty of them. The court has a few vacancies.
The one confirmation to the 4th Circuit won by President Bush was that of Judge Steven Agee. A former delegate and Virginia Supreme Court Justice, who once ran for the Republican nomination for attorney general as a "moderate," he was a compromise choice of Democrat Senator Jim Webb and President Bush after his original choices were shot down by the new Democrat majority in 2007. Thankfully, Judge Agee voted in the majority.
Majority: Judge Niemeyer, who wrote the opinion, in which Chief Judge Williams and Judges Wilkinson, Shedd, Duncan, and Agee joined. Judge Wilkinson wrote a separate concurring opinion (see exerpt here).
Minority: Judge Michael, who wrote the dissent, in which Judges Motz, Traxler, King, and Gregory joined.
In other news, a political shocker: Delegate Kristin Amundson (D-44, Fairfax) surprised everyone with a post-re-nomination withdrawal. Even though the 44th usually goes blue, Republican Jay McConnville is proving to be a solid candidate. Furthermore, a lefty independent is in the mix. With its success in recent Northern Virginia special elections, could this be a surprise GOP pickup?
Finally, the Washington Post, of all papers, has followed up on Republican complaints about Governor Tim Kaine's lack of travel and expenses transparency while working his second job as Democrat National Committee Chairman. While he initially said he would only perform those duties on nights and weekends, the Post uncovered that seven of nine days he has travelled, and reported, are weekdays. The governor also previously said anyone who wants to know where he's been only has to ask. People have, through FOIA requests, and no answers are forthcoming. Also, he now says the DNC will pick up the costs of his security detail. But why were we taxpayers ever paying for these political trips?