U-S- Supreme Court

Restitution For Eugenics Victims Tops TFF's Legislative Agenda

The Family Foundation of Virginia today released the highlights of its 2014 legislative agenda, highlighted by joining a bipartisan effort by Delegates Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Patrick Hope (D-47, Arlington County) to provide restitution to victims of Virginia's eugenics policy. Other priority legislation The Family Foundation supports includes bills protecting religious liberty, allowing homeschool student sports participation ("Tebow bill") at public schools, budget amendments to ban state funding of Planned Parenthood and to align Virginia with the federal Hyde Amendment, and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act. It will oppose Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, adding sexual orientation to Virginia's non-discrimination laws, the expansion of gambling, tax increases, attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, and the removal of religious exemptions for home schooling. Here is The Family Foundation's official statement on its legislative agenda:

"The 2014 General Assembly will be very focused on jobs, the economy, the budget, mental health reform and rightly so, but our elected officials are capable of handling both economic and social issues," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. "The General Assembly spends the overwhelming majority of its time on non-social issues but those don’t merit quite the attention. Our goal is to be the voice of Virginians who care about values issues and recognize that we cannot have a strong, stable economy until we renew our moral standards."

A top priority of The Family Foundation is legislation ensuring religious liberty and free speech protections for public school students at graduations and other public ceremonies. Recent incidents of speech censorship at public school graduations around the country offer evidence that religious speech is being targeted. Legislation has been introduced that is modeled after existing state law in Texas and Mississippi, neither of which have been challenged in the courts. The legislation tracks U.S. Supreme Court decision language. 

"Public school students should not be targeted for discrimination simply because their speech reflects or includes their religious beliefs,” said Cobb. "The Constitution is clear and should be applied to students when they are speaking at public school events. It is a disgrace that American students are censored by government officials from simply mentioning their faith at a graduation ceremony, and that shouldn't happen in the birthplace of religious freedom."

Another priority will be restitution for victims of eugenics. First introduced last year, this legislation would provide a small financial payment to those whom the state physically denied the ability to have children. Eugenics was practiced in Virginia for nearly two decades, resulting in an estimated 8,500 victims.

"Virginia has apologized for eugenics, but that’s little comfort to those few surviving victims who had their ability to have children taken away from them by an atrocious government act. The idea that the government can deem some worthy of life and others not should be revolting to every American. And while this small amount of money cannot begin to undo the wrong, it is one way to hold a government accountable for its actions and, hopefully, to prevent anything like this from happening again."

The Family Foundation also will again support legislation that allows homeschool students to try out for sports at the public school they would otherwise attend. Commonly referred to as the "Tebow Bill," this simple policy of fairness to families who pay taxes in support of local public schools would affect a very small number of Virginia home school athletes. Numerous other states have adopted similar policies with no negative affect on athletic programs or public schooling.

The pro-family organization will also oppose the expansion of so-called Obamacare through Medicaid. Despite promises by the federal government to pay ninety percent of the costs in future years, it is clear by the unfulfilled assurances that people would be able to keep their own insurance and doctors and that there is serious risk to future state budgets by expanding.

"There is no question that we need to figure out new and compassionate ways to deliver health care to the truly needy in Virginia," said Cobb. "But every day Virginians are seeing the abject failure of Obamacare to fix the problems that we face. We need a new national dialogue on a real fix for our health care system that provides actual care and assistance and doesn't bankrupt our economy."

"Neither political party in Virginia has a mandate on anything, which leaves all ideas up for debate, discussion and compromise," said Cobb. "Values-driven Virginians expect their elected officials to represent them and their principles, and we’ll be there to make sure they do.”


Protect Your Church Against Homosexual Activist Litigation

If same-sex marriage became legal today, would your church and pastor be protected from lawsuits brought by homosexual activists? In June, the U.S. Supreme Court may decide that homosexual marriage should be a legal right in all 50 states, a decision that would threaten the religious liberty of all who support Biblical values. However, legal experts suggest there are several ways to protect your church from possible sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuits. Alliance Defending Freedom has published several suggestions and guidelines for what churches should add to their bylaws in order for them to protect their religious beliefs. ADF believes there are seven essential items every church should include in its bylaws, including a formal church membership policy and a statement about the church's religious beliefs regarding marriage. For more information, click here and share this information with your pastor and church leaders and even more details are available at the link in the first paragraph.

Senate To Vote On Key Religious Liberty Bill!

On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on a priority bill of The Family Foundation, SB 1074, patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg). This bill will protect the rights of religious and political college student groups at public universities to choose members and leadership based on their beliefs and principles.

Please contact your Senator now and urge them to vote YES on SB 1074!

Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match their religious or political beliefs is a longstanding tradition for college students. Unfortunately, some universities around the country have begun enacting so-called "all-comers" policies, which essentially prohibits these student organizations from establishing criteria for their membership and leaders. Consequently, a student group that is recognized by the university and receives funding — from their own student activity fees — or use of facilities, could not have any kind of requirement that members or leaders actually share the beliefs or believe in the mission of the group!

Free association is a foundational constitutional principle but, as we know, those kinds of freedoms slowly are being reduced. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld "all-comers" policies as constitutional, though it didn't require universities to have them. SB 1074 will ensure that the current policy of the majority of Virginia's public universities will continue.

The only opposition to the legislation that we are aware of is from, predictably, the ACLU, which argued against the bill by stating, in essence, that it views free association as inherently discriminatory. It also argued that religious groups shouldn't be allowed to receive "recognition" from state funded universities because they "discriminate" based on their views of human sexuality. We have worked with representatives of various Virginia universities to ensure that they are not opposed to the bill.

Key Votes In House Education Committee On Monday!

Two of The Family Foundation's highest priorities this year will be voted on in the House Education Committee Monday morning. The first, HB 1442, is legislation that would assist home school students in participating in public school sports, often called the "Tebow Bill," and the second, HB 1617, is a bill that protects the rights of college student groups to organize according to their beliefs.

If your delegate is on the House Education Committee, please contact him or her as soon as possible and urge him or her to vote in favor of HB 1617 (student groups) and HB 1442 ("Tebow Bill")!

The home school sports bill, once again this year patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville), would break down barriers that prevent home school students from playing public high school sports by prohibiting localities from joining the Virginia High School League, a pseudo-state/private entity that regulates public school sports. Under the provisions of the measure, localities would not be able to contract with VHSL if they don't allow home school students to participate. Half the states in the nation have some type of measure that provide opportunities to home school students to participate in public school sports.

The children of families who pay taxes that support the local public schools and are part of our communities, continue to be denied the ability to try out for an activity that they are funding for the simple reason that they are home schooled. This discriminatory practice must end.

A VCU poll released just yesterday for the Commonwealth Education Policy Institute, an education think tank headed by former State Public Education Superintendent Dr. Bill Bosher, indicates that nearly two-thirds of Virginians support fairness for homeschoolers. It receives more than 60 percent support from people in all demographics, incomes, political parties and independents, education levels and regions of Virginia except Hampton Roads, where it is favored by 54 percent. Talk about bipartisanship! 

HB 1617 is a new proposal. Participating in groups and organizations with missions that match their religious or political beliefs is a longstanding tradition for college students. Unfortunately, some universities around the country have begun enacting so-called "all-comers" policies, which essentially eliminates these groups from being able to set criteria for members and leaders. Consequently, a student group that is recognized by the university and receives funding from student activity fees or use of facilities couldn't have any kind of requirement that members or leaders actually share the beliefs or believe in the mission of the group!

Free association is a foundational constitutional principle, but as we know, those kinds of freedoms are slowly being reduced. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld "all-comers" policies as constitutional, though it didn't require universities to have them. HB 1617, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), will ensure that the current policy of the majority of Virginia's universities will continue.

The only opposition to this bill that we are aware of is the ACLU, which argued against the bill earlier this week in sub-committee. In essence, they view free association as inherently discriminatory. Despite that, the bill passed subcommittee unanimously. We have worked with representatives of various Virginia colleges and universities to ensure that they are not opposed to the bill.

Understanding Obamacare's Surprises In Two Entertaining Minutes

It's not quite the Schoolhouse Rock! classic that "I'm Just A Bill" is, but Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) has created a highly entertaining, but extremely serious and informative, animation that explains some of the numerous hideous surprises contained in Obamacare's 2,700 pages that are not widely discussed. For example, if the law was really about healthcare, wouldn't life-saving drugs be free? Not! In fact, Obamacare will increase those costs while making end-of-life drugs free! No only that, but an abortion premium will come out of your paycheck. We thought liberals were all about choice and against government coercion. Gag rules, forced compliance, restrictions on religious liberty and more are documented in two entertaining minutes. Although the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, there still are conscience clause and First Amendment aspects of it that currently face legal challenges, with ADF thoroughly involved in those cases. On its Obamacare page, linked above, it has an update and a synopsis of these troubling, religious-freedom-restricting sections of the law. It's blog (also linked above) provides more involved details. It will leave you shaking your head in disgust. But if you're going to be appalled at something, you might as well be entertained by it. So, please watch this video and share it with as many people and on your social media sites. The more who are aware, the better chances we have of its eventual repeal.

Alliance Defending Freedom explains the surprises buried in 2,700 pages of Obamacare. 

Attorney General Cuccinelli Defends Federal Marriage Law

The attack on the definition of marriage is never ceasing. So neither is our work. In late May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, covering Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico, ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act, legislation protecting the definition of marriage that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, was unconstitutional. The decision by that court threatens not only the federal DOMA, but the definition of marriage, both constitutional and by statute, in 42 states. The decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined 14 other state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review the First Circuit's decision. Because the Obama administration refused to uphold its responsibility and defend and enforce federal law, the U.S. House of Representatives assumed the legal defense of the statute.

Amazingly, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Obamacare last spring, President Obama, who once taught constitutional law, said federal courts did not have the right to strike down duly enacted laws by Congress. (What other laws are there?) But he is quite selective in interpreting his own peculiar constitutional interpretations. A year earlier, he instructed his Justice Department to cease its defense of DOMA, in essence asking the courts to declare it unconstitutional. (In fact, his declaration was so outrageous, a federal judge in another case, demanded the U.S. Attorney arguing it, to produce a brief from the Justice Department explaining if the Obama administration believed in the concept of judicial review.)

In the amicus brief, the 15 attorneys general present decades of law and legal precedent pertaining to the states' interest in benefiting heterosexual marriage because of children:

The choice to promote traditional marriages is based on an understanding that civil marriage recognition arises from the need to encourage biological parents to remain together for the sake of their children. It protects the only procreative relationship that exists and makes it more likely that unintended children, among the weakest members of society, will be cared for. ...

This ideal does not disparage the suitability of alternative arrangements where non-biological parents have legal responsibility for children. But these relationships are exactly that — alternatives to the model. States may rationally conclude that, all things being equal, it is better for the biological parents also to be the legal parents, and that marriage promotes that outcome.

Thomas Messner of the Heritage Foundation puts it this way:

Individuals marry based on various private interests. The public interest in marriage, in contrast, is based directly on the role that marriage plays in creating and raising the next generation. Same-sex marriage breaks the essential connection between marriage, children, and the mothers and fathers who create them.

Same-sex marriage also puts the law on the wrong side of reality by claiming that marriage is something other than what it is: the union of husband and wife. Many kinds of relationships are meaningful and valuable to the individuals involved and even to the broader public. But that does not make them marriages. It is not irrational or bigoted for the law to recognize that marriage is a unique kind of relationship deserving a unique kind of status.

Virginians, understanding the preciousness of marriage and its integral role in the raising of children, voted to add an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage in 2006. But the fact that same-sex marriage advocates are 0-30 at the state ballot box is no deterrent to their aggression, and has in fact fueled their anti-religious fervor. The Family Foundation will continue to stand in the gap with those elected officials who stand for marriage and religious liberty to ensure that your values are protected.

Now That's It's Official, A Glimpse Into The Future Of Obamacare

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has given its imprimatur to Obamacare and its coercion of Christian faiths to provide for abortion and contraception against their beliefs (where are all the civil libertarians on this?), the hiring of a 16,000-man IRS army to enforce government dictates, an unquantifiable increase of government intrusion into the most personal areas of life (and death), an infinitesimal amount of new regulations and an immeasurable expansion of government debt, here is but one of the consequences sure to come down in the future if the next Congress and president do not repeal the law: Doctor strikes. How do we know? Because the future isn't the future. It's the present. We can see it in the countries that have socialized their health care industries and accumulated massive debt over time. Not able to maintain pace with mounting costs government-run systems naturally incurs, cutbacks occur — in personnel (layoffs), in compensation to attract the best scientific minds into the field (fewer doctors), in treatment (rationing), and the like.

In Britain, the granddaddy of Western socialized medicine, doctors voted to go on strike against their employer, the government-run National Health Service, over pension payments. From The Guardian (UK):

Delegates agreed that more industrial action was necessary to try to force ministers to backtrack on pension arrangements that have infuriated the profession because they will force doctors to work until they are 68, pay more to pension contributions and forfeit their final salary scheme.

The BMA motion said any future action "should be in conjunction with other public sector unions" and that the ruling council of the medical union "should consider a range of options in defence of our pensions".

The options included a withdrawal from the establishment of clinical commissioning groups, bodies that will become key in the NHS in England under the coalition's controversial health reforms.

In secondary hospital care, the option is for "withdrawal of labour with emergency cover only". Such a move would mean the NHS being able to offer only a minimal service, similar to that given on Christmas Day or bank holidays when staff deal only with emergency cases. (Emphasis added.)

Think we have a mountain of pension debt, now, with our current unfunded liabilities? Just wait until the government begins to run the entire system and has to pay those new IRS agents, the tens of thousands of new HHS bureaucrats and government employed medical personnel. Do you really want your doctor reduced to a public-sector-union bureaucrat — with no incentive to treat you and the possibility that he or she may strike.

This won't happen overnight, and leftist apologists will harangue anyone who posits the theory. But it will happen over time. Just as with any government-run program that gets too big to fail and just as we've seen in Britain over the years, and are seeing now. Already, the system is so melted down that hospital staffs are minimal during holidays. Who knew sickness, injuries, accidents and diseases took off on holidays?

A union consultant said this recently at a doctors' union conference:

We need to send out a very strong message to the government that we are serious about this, and get another day of action (strike) on the books. Let's get more days of action announced and get some momentum around this. ... we are very serious about this and you had better believe it.

Obamacare: The efficiency of the postal system and the compassion and care of Jimmy Hoffa. Just what the doctor didn't order. But it's on its way. Just look at Britain.

Toxic News For ObamaCare? Will Curious Chemical Case Precedent Poison Law's Constitutional Claim Tomorrow?

The United States Supreme Court rarely shows unanimity in the cases it hears. But a 9-0 verdict in an obscure case about a chemically burned paramour from 2011 may provide an insight into how the court may rule tomorrow. The case, Bond v. United States sounds more like something from Boston Legal, or even The People's Court, than the Supreme Court. Here's what happened: Defendant Carol Bond discovered that one of her best friends was pregnant by her husband. In retribution, she sprinkled caustic chemicals on a mailbox, car door handle and door knobs. It worked: The home-wrecker suffered burns.

Federal prosecutors, however, didn't attempt a conviction under standard criminal laws. Instead, as if this case couldn't get stranger, tried Ms. Bond under a statute designed to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention. David Rivkin, perhaps the country's best appellate attorney and who successfully argued the first phase of the multi-state lawsuit against ObamaCare which the Supreme Court ultimately will decide tomorrow, takes it from here, in an op-ed published last year in the Wall Street Journal:

In defense, she argued that the law exceeded Congress's power because its violation required no link to interstate commerce or any other specific federal interest. The government argued that because the state (Pennsylvania) was not party to the suit, Ms. Bond could not defend herself by attacking that law on federalism grounds. The government prevailed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court disagreed. With an unusual unanimity, the court held squarely that individual citizens have every right to challenge federal laws on the ground that they exceed the limited and enumerated powers vested in Congress by the Constitution. The court stated without equivocation that "[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When the government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake."

Perhaps most frightening to ObamaCare defenders is a line from Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion — the justice considered the court's swing vote, who, nevertheless, is committed to a dual state sovereignty system of federalism: "Fidelity to principles of federalism is not for the States alone to vindicate." More Rivkin:

For Supreme Court watchers, Bond is a profound reaffirmation of the centrality of the state-federal "dual sovereignty" system. That's why the decision is bad news for those who defend ObamaCare — the most extravagant challenge to that dual system in our history.

In enacting the ObamaCare law, Congress seized for itself the very type of power — the ability to regulate individual conduct regardless of any significant connection to interstate commerce or another legitimate federal regulatory interest — that the Constitution reserves solely to the states. In defending the law in court, the Obama administration has persistently sought to narrow the Constitution's federalism principles and to trivialize the Supreme Court's recent decisions supporting those principles.

What Bond makes clear is that those principles and cases are meant to be read broadly to achieve their original purpose: securing "the freedom of the individual" by allowing the states to respond "to the initiative of those who seek a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times without having to rely solely upon the political processes that control a remote central power."

For the rest of this insightful, short and very readable op-ed, click here. Prediction: By a 5-4 vote, the individual mandate is struck. The rest is allowed to stay but with reservations.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, TFF President Victoria Cobb To Give Updates At Williamsburg Event Thursday Night

The Family Foundation is partnering with The Williamsburg Oak Initiative to present Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for an evening of information and motivation on tomorrow night in Williamsburg. Join us and hear Attorney General Cuccinelli speak about the lawsuits pending against the federal health care mandate and the Environmental Protection Agency, legal actions that have national and constitutional implications and on which he led, taking on the Obama administration, as well as his ongoing efforts to protect liberty and defend the constitution. Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb will give an update on the recent General Assembly session as well as current events in Richmond and around the commonwealth. The program will include a question and answer period at the end. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required but is helpful for planning purposes. Please click here to register.

With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Obamacare expected any day, you won't want to miss hearing the perspective of one of the nation's leaders in the battle to return our nation to its constitutional foundation. Victoria's presentation will provide insight into the hard fought General Assembly victories as well as detail some of the trials and challenges and behind-the-scenes action of the recent General Assembly session.

The event will take place tomorrow night, from 7:-9:00 p.m., at Greensprings Chapel, 3687 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg. For more information, contact Roger Pogge at 804-343-0010 or at roger@familyfoundation.org.

Eleventh Circuit Court Of Appeals: ObamaCare's Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional

Funny how August, supposedly the slowest of all months for news, can gobsmack you in the face with a flying hammer full of headlines, and on a Friday of all things. In fact, there is a fair amount of state news today, as well as our open house last night, that we wanted to write about today. But that will wait to next week. For now, it's all about ObamaCare and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling today that the linchpin of ObamaCare — the individual mandate (i.e., the government forcing citizens to buy a product) — is unconstitutional, and some observations. Here's a good first look analysis by Bryan Preston of Pajamas Media.com. » The court seems to indicate that the rest of the law is constitutional. However, without the funding the forced purchases and penalties provide, there is no way the law can be funded (unless President Obama takes us trillions further in debt). But as far as the mandate, the court used phrases such as "unbounded assertion of congressional authority" and called its reach "breathtaking in scope," going further even than opponents had in their arguments.

» It's interesting that the 11th Circuit came to its decision this quickly: The 4th Circuit, known as the "Rocket Docket," heard the Virginia challenge earlier and still has not released its decision.

»The 11th Circuit's 2-1, 304-page decision apparently says the individual mandate is unconstitutional but the other parts may be constitutional. Judge Roger Vinson, the Federal District Court Judge in Florida, on whose opinion the appeal was based, ruled the entire law was unconstitutional. After all, the law has no severability clause which stipulates that if any part of a bill is ruled unconstitutional, then the remaining parts will remain in place. Without that clause, once the 11th Circuit ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional, the entire law must be ruled unconstitutional. But, we'll take this major decision for now.

» The three judge panel was made up of one Bill Clinton appointee, one George W. Bush appointee, and one Clinton appointee who was appointed to the Federal District bench by Ronald Reagan.

» Here is a key sentence from Judge Vinson that the 11th Circuit upheld today:

The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.

» Where are Eliot Spitzer and all the liberals who mocked the intelligence of all state Attorneys General for filing suit against ObamaCare, saying that they had no chance and it clearly is constitutional? This is now at least the third federal court to rule it unconstitutional, including the Federal District Court for Eastern Virginia (Judge Henry Hudson). Where are all the leftist activists who yelled that these legal actions were "a waste of time and tax dollars"? Isn't it nice to stay quiet and let them eat crow when the time comes?

» Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has good information on the decision and is updating it frequently. He provides this nugget from the 304-page ruling,as legal analysts continue to pour through the lengthy document.

It cannot be denied that the individual mandate is an unprecedented exercise of congressional power. … Never before has Congress sought to regulate commerce by compelling non-market participants to enter into commerce so that Congress may regulate them. The statutory language of the mandate is not tied to health care consumption — past, present, or in the future. Rather, the mandate is to buy insurance now and forever. The individual mandate does not wait for market entry.

» David Rivkin, the attorney hired by the more than two dozen attorneys general to argue — and who won — the multi-state lawsuit in Federal District Court in Florida, issued this news release. The former Reagan administration attorney, and one of America's top legal minds on a myriad of disciplines, said the ruling is a major victory for ObamaCare opponents and that the court's decision confirms almost verbatim his original argument in a series of editorials dating from August of 2009. He has been correct on this matter consistently, and recently laid out on SCOTUSBlog.com how and why ObamaCare will get struck down in the U.S. Supreme Court. From his release:

The Court has made clear that it will vindicate federalism against encroachment by either the federal government or the state. [It] has consistently held that there must be some areas of life, even where there may be some remote economic impact, that constitutionally remain within the States’ regulatory authority alone.

» Governor Bob McDonnell issued this statement:

I am pleased by today’s decision. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has correctly determined that the Commerce Clause provides no constitutional basis for a mandate that citizens must purchase a specific commercial product or face a penalty. The individual mandate provision . . . represents an unprecedented expansion of federal authority. In issuing their ruling, the court's majority wrote that, "the individual mandate was enacted as a regulatory penalty, not a revenue-raising tax, and cannot be sustained as an exercise of Congress's power under the Taxing and Spending Clause." It is clearly in direct contrast to the limited powers granted to our national government by the Constitution.

The decision by the 11th Circuit is similar to the prior district court ruling on Virginia's challenge to the federal healthcare law. ... this issue must be heard in an expedited manner by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Department of Justice has resisted all prior requests to fast track this issue to the nation's highest court. That is disappointing and I again urge the Department of Justice to call for expedited review. This law will impact every American. Regardless of where one stands on the policy and constitutional questions at hand, all should at least be able to agree on the need for certainty, finality and uniform application of the law throughout the country.

» Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued this statement:

I am pleased that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the individual insurance mandate and penalty unconstitutional. The court determined that the power to force one citizen to purchase a good or service from another is outside the established outer limits of both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. The court also ruled that although the president and Congress want to now call the penalty a tax to make it pass constitutional muster, the penalty cannot be sustained under the federal government's taxing authority because the penalty is clearly not a tax.

I congratulate our fellow attorneys general in this major victory, and although this court is not in our circuit, I am pleased that the judges ruled in favor of the two key arguments that are present in our Virginia suit.

Forsyth County To Appeal Fourth Circuit Prayer Ruling

A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 vote, recently upheld a lower court's ban on prayers by clergy at public meetings that may mention the name of a particular deity. The ruling, in Joyner v. Forsyth County, contradicts decades of Supreme Court precedent and is in conflict with several other circuit court opinions on the same issue. It invites government censorship of public prayer. The Family Foundation joined with several other family policy councils in an amicus brief to the court and was in the audience when oral arguments were made. Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney and founding dean of Louisiana College's Pressler School of Law Mike Johnson, who argued the case before the Fourth Circuit in May, replied in a statement that:

America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer. There's no reason that today's public officials should be forced to censor the prayers of those invited to offer them simply because secularist groups don't like people praying according to their own conscience.

Throughout his majority opinion, Judge Harvey Wilkinson seeks to recognize the "legitimacy of legislative prayer" while at the same time requiring that "prayer" be void of any religious, or specifically Christian, references. It ridicules sectarian prayer as denying "invocations their inclusive aspect" and renders all faiths equal, stating that "those of different creeds are in the end kindred spirits." This position exposes the idea of government "neutrality" toward religion for what it is — pure censorship and hostility toward public exercise of faith. In a frightening opinion fraught with contradiction and illogic, the majority reduces religious expression to a place deserving less protection than other speech: "The First Amendment teaches that religious faith stands on a different footing from other forms of speech and observance."

(Note the inclusion of "observance" and not just "speech"!) Essentially, the majority argues that simply uttering the name of Christ at a public meeting "advances" Christianity, offends people of other faiths, and therefore cannot be tolerated, unless there is an arbitrary number of other deities recognized as well.

Judge Paul V. Niemeyer strongly dissented, writing that:

The majority has dared to step in and regulate the language of prayer — the sacred dialogue between humankind and God. Such a decision treats prayer agnostically; reduces it to civil nicety; hardly accommodates the Supreme Court's jurisprudence in Marsh v. Chambers . . . and creates a circuit split [with the 11th Circuit]. ... Most frightfully, it will require secular legislative and judicial bodies to evaluate and parse particular religious prayers under an array of criteria. ... I respectfully submit that we must maintain a sacred respect of each religion, and when a group of citizens comes together, as does the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, and manifests that sacred respect — allowing the prayers of each to be spoken in the religion's own voice — we must be glad to let it be.

The irony is that secularists claim there must be a "separation of church and state" except when the state can impose itself as editor-in-chief of prayer. As Judge Neimeyer alludes to, the prayers are an affirmation of the individual's belief and his or her exhortation to the deity in which he or she believes to guide the legislative body to which he or she is invited. Government intrusion, then, is not safeguarding an advancement of religion by government, but infringing on the individual's right to exercise his or her religious expression.

Other federal courts have upheld the ADF model invocation policy on which Forsyth County's policy is based, including a very recent July 11 decision that upheld the invocation policy of Lancaster, Calif. Each of the four other federal courts to review similar invocation policies since 2009 has found them to be constitutional. Not only that, but there was another vote recently — a 6-1 vote by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court (Stamford Advocate).

The details of this case date back to March of 2007 when the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit against Forsyth County Board, stating, “[the Board] does not have a policy which discourages or prohibits those whom [the Board] has invited to deliver prayers from including references to Jesus Christ, or any other sectarian deity, as part of their prayers.” The two plaintiffs represented by the ACLU complained that a prayer offered at one specific meeting in December of 2007 that mentioned the “Cross of Calvary,” the “Virgin Birth” and “Jesus” made them feel “distinctly unwelcome and ‘coerced by [their] government into endorsing a Christian prayer.’”

History Bothers ACLU, Atheists, But Not Giles Country School Board

Tuesday, the Giles County School Board voted to display the Ten Commandments in its schools, along with several other historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). This decision came despite threats from the self-styled defender of freedom ACLU and the atheist Freedom from Religion Coalition which, among other activities, tried to stop the issuance of the Mother Teresa stamp last year (see RealCatholicBlog.com ). Somehow, these two groups reason, displays of these historical documents are "unconstitutional." Now, they may file suit to stop the displays.

Unfortunately, the legal precedent for the display of historical documents is anything but clear. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court, on the same day in 2005, issued two separate opinions on the display of the Ten Commandments. One it deemed constitutional, the other not. In an effort to "split the baby," the court showed that, at least in its opinion, motives for displaying historical documents are more important than the words on the documents.

The primary difference between the two cases (Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County, Kentucky, et al. v. ACLU), according to Justice Steven Breyer, the swing vote in each decision, was that the Kentucky displays stemmed from a governmental effort "substantially to promote religion," while the other (in Texas) served a "mixed but primarily non-religious purpose."

To come to that conclusion the justices had to determine the motives of those involved in the displays, something that many legal analysts argue is difficult to pin down. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, who voted against the displays in both cases, is no longer on the court.

When the display of the Ten Commandments in Giles County was initially removed, both students at the schools and droves of citizens protested. Testimony at school board meetings overwhelmingly supported reposting them. Officials determined that it would be constitutional if it was included with other documents of historical significance to the United States.

Of course, including other historical documents is likely to provide little comfort to those bent on expunging our history — and the public square — of any hint of Christianity. It is very clear, from this case to the many other cases in federal court dealing with prayer at public meetings and school graduations, to the use of public facilities by religious groups, that a handful of secularists have absolutely no interest in historical accuracy or any reference to religious heritage. As one federal court said, the biggest threat may be that children in schools might actually read the Ten Commandments and obey them.

Recently, a student at a public school in Texas ignored a federal judge and led her cheering classmates in prayer at their graduation (a subsequent decision by a higher court overturned the judge's decision). Now, Giles County has voted to thumb its nose at the ACLU. Here's hoping that we've reached a point where the citizens of our nation have decided that the ACLU doesn't speak for everyone.

Is There Vote Fraud In Virginia? Join Us For A True The Vote Presentation Tomorrow Night In Centreville

Here's a reminder about a great event we're co-sponsoring tomorrow night in Centerville explaining how to investigate and prevent voter fraud. We we hope you can attend if you live or will be in the area. The King Street Patriots from Houston is a group that was shocked to uncover several voting irregularities in its hometown elections, so it created an initiative called True the Vote, which is becoming a model for groups to fight voter fraud across the country (see video and read background, here). With General Assembly elections this November — normally very low turnout campaigns where a few votes can mean the difference between a conservative or liberal Senate — eliminating voter fraud is more important than ever. If elections are not fair they are not free. So, please attend Centreville Baptist Church tomorrow night at 7:00. to learn more. Catherine Engelbrecht, President of The King Street Patriots (see Breitbart.tv), will share the shocking experiences she encountered with the Houston True the Vote organization.

The video below is a Fox News Channel interview of Ms. Engelbrecht and Family Foundation friend Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute. (Kelly was a key partner of us developing strategy during the Marriage Amendment campaign and LI has successfully argued religious liberty cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.) In it, they explain the outrageous and scary voter fraud discovered in Texas during recent elections.

Ms. Engelbrecht, herself, has a remarkable story and worth the time to see. She is a successful entrepreneur in the oil services industry, a mom and someone who was motivated in recent times to get involved in the political process after seeing the direction of our country. She founded The King Street Patriots and her work for it is entirely volunteer.

At the meeting you will also receive updates from American Majority, a Virginia-based national training organization whose mission is to train leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market. In addition, The Family Foundation will provide an update on the latest General Assembly and November election news. If you are in Northern Virginia, will be in the area, or want to make the trip, we encourage you to attend. For more information, contact Roger Pogge at 804-343-0010 or roger@familyfoundation.org.

The event is free and open to the public. Click here to register, for directions or for more information.

True The Vote Informational Meeting

Centreville Baptist Church

15100 Lee Highway, Centreville

Tuesday, May 17

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Much is at stake this November: "If elections are not fair they are not free."

Analysis Of Today's Health Care Lawsuit Hearings At The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeals: Is It An Advantage For Virginia To Lose This Round?

Today the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard two cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law. One, Liberty University v. Timothy Geithner, was on appeal by the college, which lost its case in Federal District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The other, and more well known case, Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius, was on appeal by the federal government because Judge Henry Hudson in the Eastern District of Virginia, ruled the law unconstitutional late last year. The Fourth Circuit includes all of Virginia (as well as other states) so both appeals were heard at its courthouse in Richmond. As appeals are heard by three judge panels and since one panel within a circuit court cannot overrule another, the same panel heard both cases. Selection of the three judges, according to the court, was done at random by a computer system. Its picks were Judges Dianna Gribbon Motz, Andre Davis and James Wynn, Jr. — two appointed by President Barack Obama and one by President Bill Clinton. Mathew Staver, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law and lead attorney for Liberty Counsel; Duncan Getchell, Solicitor General for the Commonwealth; and Acting United States Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued the cases. The judges heard the Liberty case first and despite a straightaway-launch into skeptical questioning of Mr. Staver, they were at least as difficult on Mr. Katyal. It made for a compelling debate, so much so that the scheduled 40 minute hearing was extended by Judge Motz to 1:24. It was gripping even for experienced court observers, not to mention for someone, like me, who has limited in-person exposure to high level jurisprudence.

Since it covered most of the merits of the cases in the first one (although the cases are being argued on slightly different grounds) the Virginia case only went nine minutes beyond the 40 scheduled, with most of the questioning on Virginia's standing to even bring the case. Interestingly, Mr. Katyal said Liberty had standing, even though that was partly the grounds for its loss, because as individuals and employers it had grounds to question the employer and individual mandates enforced by the law. Although the feds lost its motion to dismiss against Virginia, again argued that line of attack. Mr. Katyal alleged Virginia passed the Health Care Freedom Act in order to have standing to challenge the health care law and that if allowed to stand, any state could pass any law any time to challenge any federal law from which it wishes to be exempt. This clearly frustrated Mr. Getchell who argued it is an unquestioned right for states to pass laws. Unfortunately, Judge Davis would have none of this and clearly blustered partisan talking points rather than judicial prowess.

On the whole, the three judges, especially Motz and Wynn, seemed open minded. Judge Motz especially perked up each time one of the three lawyers cited the Comstock case, in which her opinion came down on the limited government side. Judge Wynn clearly had problems with several instances of federal twisted logic. For example, Mr. Katyal said the words in the law don't mean what they say in the penalty provision because it is a tax even though the word tax is never mentioned in the law; and that the law does not regulate inactivity because deciding not to purchase insurance is an activity and that forcing people to buy insurance only is an "upfront payment" for a service it will use eventually. So, there was at least an appearance that the judges, despite their political pedigree, were open minded. (Prediction: 2-1 for ObamaCare.)

But here's a theory: Does Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli want to win at this stage? If he does, the feds surely will appeal to the entire Fourth Circuit. That will delay a trip to D.C. for a date with the Supremes by months, even a year. If Virginia loses, he can appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, where its jurisprudence may well favor voiding the law. Remember, he attempted an extraordinary expedited appeal there and was greeted with some sympathy. He wants to get there as soon as possible. So, Virginia is in a good position: If it wins, with at least two Democrat appointed judges siding with it, the feds don't have much chance en banc, either. One caveat: If Virginia loses on the question of standing, he would have to appeal that first, in essence to win permission just to continue the suit. That's what was dangerous about the direction of the argument in the Virginia hearing. Ironically, it could be the Liberty lawsuit that could win the day, based on the intensity and skepticism of the questions to Mr. Katyal. We shall see.

Now, here's a treat. Below is are links to the audio of each case. Click and enjoy your online legal education. Its worth the listen.

Liberty University v. Timothy Geithner (1:24)

Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius (:49)

McDonnell To Appear On "Meet The Press" Sunday

Governor Bob McDonnell, no stranger to the television political talk shows since his 2009 landslide election, will appear on the granddaddy of them all Sunday with an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. He'll have some atypical company in fellow guests left-winger David Axelrod, one of President Barack Obama's closest and most trusted confidants, and Democrat-Turned-RINO-turned-independent left wing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Topics include the 2012 presidential race and the economy. Expect host David Gregory to ask Governor McDonnell, the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, about his interest in the 2012 GOP vice presidential nomination. The governor also has been vocal about the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration and eventual refusal to expedite the hearing of Virginia's legal challenge to the federal health care takeover (see statement). Late last year, Federal Judge Henry Hudson ruled the law unconstitutional (as has a federal judge in Florida). The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the federal government's appeal in Richmond next week. Check your local listings for the Meet the Press broadcast. Check back here for ObamaCare coverage next week.

Healthcare Lawsuit Update From Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Yesterday, we published the official statement of Governor Bob McDonnell regarding the one year anniversary of the federal healthcare law. In it, he mentions that more than half the nation's governors support Virginia's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case directly (although the 20-plus states that won in Florida Federal District Court are, for now, content to resume battle with the feds in Appeals Court). Today, we post a mildly abbreviated version of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's update of the case's status, as sent to supporters earlier today.

Virginia is on a 'dual track' in the case at the moment. We have a motion to expedite the case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the same time we are briefing the case for presentation to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals — the appellate court that covers Virginia.

We have asked the Supreme Court to expedite the case under its Rule 11. They only do this for one or two cases per decade, so don't bet a lot of money on this one; however, the nature and cost of the healthcare law is the type that they have expedited in the past, so we'll see what they do.

We submitted the final brief on expediting this week. The Supreme Court will consider our request on April 15th. We could see a decision by the Supreme Court as soon as April 18th. ...

Under Rule 11 of the Supreme Court, Virginia has requested that the Supreme Court pull the case out of the Court of Appeals and hear it directly. This could cut almost a year off of the case, resulting in ENORMOUS savings to both state governments and the private sector if the law is found unconstitutional and stricken. And why go through all the hoops of getting ready to implement a law that may be stricken anyway? Oh, I'm sorry, there I go thinking logically again . . . naturally the Obama administration is opposing this effort . . . I know you're shocked.

You might ask yourself, "Won't the Supreme Court want to hear from Appellate Court judges?" And the answer is "maybe." Remember this case is pure legal argument. There are no documents or other discovery to consider, no trial witnesses, in fact there was no trial at all. So, we are re-arguing the same pure legal arguments from the district court again in the Court of Appeals. Also, five different judges have addressed the merits of the case, with more to come. So, there are going to be an unusual number of judges' opinions to look at — should the Supremes so choose — without even getting to the appeals courts.

Thus far, we are the only state requesting that the Supreme Court exercise its discretion to expedite the case. Whether or not the Supreme Court decides to expedite the case is entirely within their discretion, so it's hard to tell what may happen. ...

At the same time, we are about to submit our first of two briefs in the appellate court. In their opening brief, the feds made essentially the same arguments that they made in the district court. And while we adjust our presentation to include elements of other cases, our arguments will be the same as in the district court.

We will argue our case on May 10th before a three judge panel of the 4th Circuit (assuming the Supreme Court does NOT expedite the case, thereby taking it out of the appeals court). We will not know who those three judges are until the day of the argument.

Following our hearing, it would then be reasonable to look for a ruling around mid-July. I expect each side to react differently depending on who wins.

If Virginia wins in the 4th Circuit, I expect the federal government to ask the full 4th Circuit to rehear the case en banc (i.e., with all 14 judges of the 4th Circuit participating). This would be consistent with their efforts to drag the case out, as that may add several more months in the 4th Circuit, at which point, whichever side loses en banc will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the feds win in the 4th Circuit, I expect that we will immediately appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Once we get to the Supreme Court, I would expect to brief and argue the case during the next term of the Court. The next term of the Court will run from the beginning of October 2011 through the end of June 2012.

I would then expect that a final decision in our case will most likely be made (best guess) toward the end of June 2012. I think it will be very hard for the Obama administration to drag the case beyond June of 2012.

Obviously, that is very interesting timing in light of the Presidential race. And it further baffles me as to why the President would want to drag the case as close to Election Day as possible. ...

ObamaCare Lawsuit: Who's Wasting Money Now?

Speaking of Virginia's lawsuit against ObamaCare: Remember all the liberal hysteria regarding all the money Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli supposedly is spending on the constitutional challenge to the federal health care law (Richmond Times-Dispatch) — as if government spending has ever been an issue with liberals? Never mind that he is defending Virginia law (the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act), which it is his duty to do. Where are the howls of disgust by the same people now that the Obama Justice Department refuses to agree (Times-Dispatch) with the Attorney General for an expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (Washington Examiner)? Without such an appeal, we're talking at least two cases in U.S. Courts of Appeals, at least another year or more of legal work and court proceedings, endless briefs and motions, travel from Washington to Richmond and Atlanta, meetings, hundreds of hours of federal government employee time and who knows what else it takes to try a case these days — only this will be two cases simultaneously, not to mention any further cases that are filed in federal district courts by other states or aggrieved parties. It's no exaggeration to say the cost could be in the millions. That's a lot more than the $350 it cost the Commonwealth to file its case in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia . . . but a lot less than the $1.1 billion it will cost Virginia to implement ObamaCare. The pricelessness of the hypocrisy is passed only by the reality of the true costs.

Think The Governor Is Maybe Just A Little Perturbed By The Obama Administration?

Do you think Governor Bob McDonnell is perhaps just slightly perturbed at the Obama administration's Department of Justice today? Here's the entirety of his statement, released in the last hour, opposing DOJ's brief opposing an expedited appeal of the health care lawsuit directly to the U.S. Supreme Court (and skip over the two U.S. Courts of Appeals that will hear the feds' appeals in the Virginia and Florida cases). It's terse and Hh doesn't sound too happy:

I am extremely disappointed by the Obama Administration’s brief opposing Virginia’s request for an expedited review of pending federal healthcare lawsuits. The request for expedited review is one strongly supported by the majority of our nation’s governors. It is a common sense request to provide critically needed certainty and finality to this ongoing issue. The petition to oppose expedited review is detrimental to the federal government, the states, employers and families. The Administration’s opposition to this request is irresponsible and indefensible. A litigation process potentially taking years to resolve is bad for America, and will potentially cost the states tens of millions of dollars. To say to medical providers, business people, insurers, governors and ordinary citizens that costly litigation and delay is preferred over prompt finality is an affront to the common sense of the American people. Everyone knows that the case involves clear issues of constitutional law, which will be settled only in the U.S. Supreme Court. After a huge Democratic party rush to pass the bill on Christmas Eve, there now appears to be no sense of urgency from the Obama Administration to find out if the measure is constitutional. It is our continued hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider and grant expedited review as permitted by the rules of court for cases of such historic national importance.

With more than half the states now in court seeking relief from a law that two federal judges have ruled unconstitutional, and governors of said states asking for an expedited appeal because no new arguments or evidence will be submitted to the Appeals Courts, one might think the Obama administration might be willing to cooperate for its own good, if not the good of the people it represents. No doubt it wants to stall and keep the case out of the ultimate arbiters' hands until after the 2012 election so as to not have to run on a single accomplishment that ultimately may be struck down as illegal. Of course, it's only the DOJ's brief. The Supreme Court may still decide to take the case straightaway, but the odds of such a rare occurrence are enhanced if both parties agree to the motion.

Abortion Center Safety Passes Senate On Lt. Governor Bolling’s Tie-Breaker Vote!

After a long and passionate Senate floor debate that spanned a few hours over two days, the Virginia Senate voted 20-20 this afternoon to direct the Department of Health to promulgate regulations for abortion centers. After a brief pause for the Senate clerk to announce the vote, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling cast his constitutionally authorized tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill. It now will go to Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature. After more than two decades of hiding behind a veil of political secrecy, abortion centers in Virginia will face greater scrutiny and better health standards. It was the first time ever that such legislation has even reached the Senate floor, despite numerous bills passed by the House. Each year, including earlier this session, the Senate kills the legislation in committee. But all 18 Republicans held together and two brave pro-life Democrats, Senators Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), resisted pressure from their caucus' leadership.

While the session has gone according to script this year, with the House passing and the Senate Education and Health Committee killing pro-life legislation, a dramatic turn occurred only a few days ago, in last days of session. SB 924, patroned by Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), which directs the Board of Health to promulgate regulations for certain health care facilities, passed the Senate and went to the House of Delegates. Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg) offered an amendment to add abortion centers. Liberals challenged its germaneness, but after consulting with his parliamentarian, House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Stafford) ruled it in order and the House passed it overwhelmingly. That change required it to return to the Senate where the GOP caucus began to coalesce around the amendment. The vote was scheduled yesterday, but after a half-hour of debate it was passed by until today. Senate Democrat leaders pressured its two wayward colleagues, but at the outset of the tenor of today's 90-minute debate it was apparent there were no cracks in the coalition.

Unfortunately, opponents devoid of logic but full of less-than-genuine arguments, demagogued the issue. At one point Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) mocked Senator Mark Obenshain's (R-26, Harrisonburg) recitation of federal court decisions upholding abortion center regulations, even though he was replying to her colleagues' calls for proof of legal precedent. It prompted this exchange. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) told his colleagues to "get a life!" if they thought the bill was about women's safety, ignoring his own colleagues' faux concerns for the constitution.

Senator John Edwards (D-21, Roanoke) repeatedly claimed the bill was unconstitutional with wild assertions and vague stretches of case law, all of which were refuted by Senator Obenshain, who cited federal appeals and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. One was Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which Senator Edwards said ruled such regulations illegal. Senator Obenshain replied that "standing up and saying so doesn’t make it so," and read from the court’s opinion which plainly disproved Senator Edwards' assertions.

Several liberal senators predicted horrors such as back alley abortions even though states such as South Carolina regulate abortion centers with no such reports and Virginia regulated abortion centers until 1983. They also claimed first-trimester abortions were among the "safest procedures" despite absolutely no corroborating evidence because there are no reporting requirements mandated in Virginia. Senator Dave Marsden (D-37, Fairfax) even compared the bill to the poll tax and efforts to keep minorities from voting in the Jim Crow era.

Another desperate aspect of the debate was the demand by several liberal Democrats that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issue an opinion, perhaps the first time they've wanted his advice. Of course, it was a tactic to delay and kill the bill. Senator Edwards sarcastically said the attorney general would love to defend the bill if it became law because of the other legal actions he’s pursued. But the fact was, and they knew it, he issued an opinion in August in support of the constitutionality of such regulations. He even accommodated senators with a letter composed during a Senate recess — which added to the longevity of the debate.

Opponents' arguments, so twisted, inevitably contradicted each other, with Senator Howell's unwitting admission that abortion is, in fact, used for contraception when she said the bill would take away one method of "determining the size of families."

This was a monumental vote and a historic day. The forces of life, after years of pursuit, finally won an incremental and commonsense victory. Thank you to all who contacted their senators on this important issue! We now look forward to working within the regulatory process to ensure the regulations by the Board of Health ensure abortion centers are safe for women who make the unfortunate choice of abortion.

Breaking News: HJ 693, Property Rights Passes Committee 8-7! Close Vote Expected On Floor!

Today was one for the ages. A long shot priority piece of legislation, HJ 693, a property rights constitutional amendment patroned by Delegate Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth), passed in sub-committee and full committee! Within the last few hours, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted 8-7 to report the resolution to the full Senate. Joining all six committee Republicans were Democrats Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) and Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath). Now that it is on the Senate floor, we urgently need you to contact your senator and ask him or her to vote for HJ 693 to ensure the fundamental fairness of property rights and just compensation when your property is taken for a legitimate public use. Property rights are fundamental to our liberty, and to ensuring our family life, our jobs and businesses, and even our places of worship. Strong property protections limit government growth and intrusiveness. Now we are closer than ever — the first time in six years since the U.S. Supreme Court's deplorable Kelo decision — to getting these rights enshrined in the Virginia Constitution.

It is very close, but very winnable, so we cannot let this opportunity to get meaningful protections fail. For the longest time the Virginia Senate has been a roadblock, but tonight we are on the doorstep!

Today, in both committees, about a dozen special interests lined up: Utilities and big corporations, and local governments and housing authorities (who use your tax dollars to lobby against your rights) lobbied relentlessly for the right to take your property for reasons other than true public uses. But a committee majority bravely listened to the people and now we have a real chance to see this resolution passed by the General Assembly and on the ballot for Virginians to vote on.

But we need you to act NOW!

The full Senate may vote on this as early as tomorrow and most likely Thursday. Now that we've come this far in the Senate, don't let the special interests win by your inaction! Please take a short moment to contact your senator and ask him or her to vote for HJ 693!

Your voice matters! Please act now on this Family Foundation priority legislation!

Six years is long enough! Urge your senator to vote for HJ 693 on the Senate floor so that we can finally have the constitutional protections for our private property rights that other states have!

Click here for your senator's e-mail address.

Click here for your senator's General Assembly phone number.