federal court

Parents Rights Bill Clear Both Chambers, Goes To Governor To Be Signed Into Law

Yesterday, after weeks of numerous twists and turns and more edits and amendments than the Declaration of Independence, a simple two sentence bill guaranteeing parental rights cleared both chambers of the General Assembly by large majorities and are on their way to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law. Starting July 1, Virginia law will recognize that parents have a "fundamental right" to make "decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care" of their children. Short, simple and powerful.

The legislation, HB 1642 and SB 908, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City County) and Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Spotsylvania), respectively, elevates the common law understanding of parental rights in place in Virginia for 400 years to that of a fundamental right. What’s in a word? Plenty. While no rights are absolute, courts give special deference to fundamental rights, requiring the state’s "compelling interest" to intervene.

These bills also codify the essence of the L.F. v. Breit Virginia Supreme Court decision in January that upheld parental rights. That’s especially important since 24 other state courts have reduced parental rights to "ordinary" — a standard more easily trumped by government authorities that attempt to interpose themselves in family decisions.

Even as the bills were being debated in recent days, evidence of the need for protecting parental rights came to light when we learned that the Obama administration is arguing in a federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their children (see TheGospelCoalition.org)!

We thank Delegate Pogge and Senator Reeves for their patience and skillful navigation through the often Byzantine legislative process, while negotiating over several amendments but not giving ground on the goal of reasserting the foundational principle parents by nature have to raise their children. We also appreciate the effort of the Home School Legal Defense Association who brought this bill to the General Assembly and worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to see it to completion.

Thank you for contacting your senators and delegates each time when called upon these last six weeks. In the end, many delegates and senators responded to the common sense of these bills as reflected in their constituents' beliefs.

Click here to thank Delegate Pogge and click here to thank Senator Reeves.

Wrongful Death For Unborn Faces House Vote Tomorrow

A bill (HB 1440), patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), to provide protection (civil recourse) for the unborn in cases where they lose their life due to the negligence of another will face an up or down final vote on the floor of the House of Delegates tomorrow.        Virginia's current wrongful death law operates in accordance with the "born alive rule." The born alive rule dates back to a 1940s federal court decision declaring that a child could recover damages for injury caused in utero once they were born. By extension, if a baby is born alive (though sometimes barely and only through artificial means) and then dies, a parent can then pursue a wrongful death cause of action for the injury in utero.   Approximately 40 states have gone beyond the born alive rule and now allow for pre-birth wrongful death suits for injury caused to a fetus while in utero. HB 1440 would bring Virginia in line with current law in the vast majority of states. This bill defines life as beginning at conception and therefore has the practical effect of expanding the state's wrongful death statue to encompass all unborn children.

Please contact your delegate as soon as possible (contact information here) and urge his or her vote for the bill (or, click here to determine your delegate).

General Assembly Issue Two: Eliminate ObamaCare Induced Abortion Funding In Virginia

This is the second in a series about key issues facing this year’s General Assembly. Issue One, Life Defined And Protected, was posted yesterday.

Last General Assembly session, just before Congressional liberals rammed through their government-run health insurance overhaul (see ObamaCare411.com), Virginia responded to the mood of its citizens and passed the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act. Once the federal health insurance changes were signed into law, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli quickly filed suit in federal court to defend (see video) the constitutional rights of Virginians

Legal challenges aside, ObamaCare is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2014. While we hope Virginia's lawsuit will succeed, no one can, with anything close to certainty, count on the courts to invalidate the law or on Congress to repeal it (see 21StateLawSuit.com). 

We especially are concerned about the provisions of the law that allow for abortion funding. That's because ObamaCare puts states in charge of their own health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses. If enacted today, Virginia could potentially include, in its exchange, plans that cover elective abortion. In fact, Pennsylvania and Maryland already have moved to include such plans (see CNSNews.com). Without intervention by the General Assembly, pro-family citizens opposed to abortion would be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. Virginians may be divided on the issue of abortion, but a vast majority are opposed to publicly funding it with their hard earned tax dollars.

However, there is a clause in the federal health insurance plan that allows states to opt out of abortion funding in their state run exchanges. Such action also fulfills the executive order signed by President Obama that theoretically protects Americans from funding abortion through the health insurance scheme. According to Americans United for Life, a total of 25 states, including Virginia, have either opted out or have plans to introduce legislation with the hope of preventing health insurance companies in the exchange from providing abortion coverage. 

Toward that end, The Family Foundation is supporting legislation introduced this session by Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge) that would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia exchange from providing abortion coverage. Especially in today's financial climate, it is unconscionable to mandate Virginians to underwrite a publicly unsupported issue resulting in the destruction of human life.

Big Week For Religious Liberty! (Or, Kaine And Stevens Cut From The Same Cloth)

Just two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision to uphold the display of a Cross on a World War I Mojave Desert memorial on what had been public property (once a national park, the land now is owned privately, yet a lower court ruled the Cross still could not be displayed.) In its majority opinion, the court stated:

The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.

The timing of the decision couldn't have been more fitting — the same day, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prayer policy that prohibited Virginia State Police chaplains from praying at public events according to their faith.

Religious liberty 2, ACLU 0!

This recent Supreme Court case, Salazar v. Buono, reversed the decision from a California lower court that ordered the removal of a Cross placed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the Mojave National Preserve in 1934 as a memorial to World War I soldiers (see California Catholic Daily). The circumstances surrounding the case, however, are far from simple.

The disagreement began in 1999 when a retired National Park Service employee sued saying that the Cross on public property constituted an unconstitutional establishment of religion. A federal court agreed and ordered that the Cross be removed. The decision was appealed and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court (the nation's most left-wing court) upheld lower court's decision. However, in 2003, before the Cross could be removed, Congress intervened and transferred the land in question to a private owner in an effort to side step the controversy.

Once again the lower courts and 9th Circuit weighed in and stated that Congress' maneuver was objectionable and did not solve the problem. In the meantime, plywood was used to cover the cross to prevent "any further harm." The U.S. Supreme Court then granted cert in the case to put the confusion to rest.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and sent the case back to the lower court to be reassessed "in light of a policy of accommodation." The logical assumption is that the display of the Cross will now be allowed. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the majority, but additionally argued that the retired park employee did not have standing to sue since the property had been transferred to a private owner. In addition, while the court did not specifically rule on the display of a Cross on public property, it certainly hinted that it would find such a display acceptable in some circumstances.

However, the written dissent truly was tragic. Justice John Paul Stevens, soon to retire,  wrote that the Cross was an improper and intolerable government endorsement of a specific faith. Similar to Kaine's discriminatory chaplain prayer policy, this opinion is yet another example of growing anti-Christian sentiment (see Huffington Post for anti-Catholic hysterics). Simply the fact that four Supreme Court justices could buy into this "logic" of censorship is proof that we must do more to protect our freedom of conscience. The Family Foundation will continue to keep a pulse on this issue and work on efforts to further protect religious liberty.

Virginia News Stand: April 12, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Time For Tea (Parties)

It's a busy Monday version of the News Stand. We're in the news, again, because liberals are complaining about us. Translation: We're doing an effective job thwarting their agenda.

Someone else doing an effective job are the lobbyists paid for by local governments with  your tax money, who lobby, mostly, against interests of taxpayers and for the interests of government. Hundreds of thousands of dollars across the state, in fact. The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot features one such lobbyist and the dough she rakes in for the Virginia Beach School Board. However, some localities have stopped paying for outside help, which is good. But they continue to lobby the General Assembly with in-house staff. Not much better. Elsewhere, Tea Parties are spring up across the state and there are several dispatches regarding such. In news sure to cheer Planned Parenthood, a Catholic pharmacy which did not sell contraception, closed.

Nationally, we see the class exhibited by the New Jersey teachers union (it circulated an e-mail wishing for Republican Governor Chris Christie's death). In Analysis, Internet safety  activist Stacy Rumenap looks at a recent big win in federal court against the FCC and Henry Lamb discusses how President Obama got that national security force he campaigned for . . . in the health care bill! Nancy Pelosi was right. We did have to pass the bill to learn what was in it! In Commentary, Michelle Malkin and Mark Tapscott examine how the left in the media and out will try to sabotage the Tea Parties.

News

*UR recognition of Family Foundation leader protested (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

*Jepson alumna condemned by students for leadership award (The Collegian)

*Family Foundation lobbies McDonnell on abortion, stem cell research (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Some school divisions think lobbyists worth the investment (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Catholic pharmacy shutters in Virginia (Washington Times)

Tea Party: We're taxed enough (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Farris, Viguerie To Speak At Culpeper Tea Party (Culpeper Star Exponent)

Tea Party seeks to ‘wake up’ America at Freedom Rally (Danville Register & Bee)

New flap brings McDonnell’s national viability to fore (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

'Jobs' governor's first 90 days have veered off course (The Daily Press)

Mims sworn in as Supreme Court justice (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

After loss, Va.'s Deeds tries to regain his footing (Washington Post)

National News

Teachers union memo 'prays' for governor's death (CNN.com)

Obama election-year jobs agenda stalls in Congress (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP senators push for 'mainstream' court nominee (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Psst: Hilary Rodham Clinton for court? (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP Chairman Steele: 'I've made mistakes' (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

Obamacare Will Be at Center of High Court Hearing (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

Obama's Private Army (Henry Lamb/GOPUSA.com)

Court Rules FCC Lacks Authority to Regulate Internet (Stacy Rumenap/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Crash course: Your illustrated guide to Tea Party saboteurs (Michelle Malkin/MichelleMalkin.com)

Will Mainstream Media reporters and editors expose, screen out, or help Tea Party saboteurs? (Mark Tapscott/Beltway Confidential-WashingtonExaminer.com)

Are All Cultures Equal? (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)

Senate Committee: Public Prayer Censored!

Monday, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed SB 56, legislation that would have restored the right of citizens invited to pray according to the dictates of their faith at government meetings. The legislation, patroned by Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), was defeated 9-6 on a near party line vote (see committee vote). Last year, similar legislation was debated at length — in fact over two days, in the same committee. The proposal did not receive similar scrutiny this year as it was the final bill on the committee’s docket and was debated for only about 10 minutes as the meeting drew to a close. Despite evidence presented by The Family Foundation that no federal court case anywhere requires so-called "non-sectarian" prayers at government meetings, the majority of the committee chose to listen to the ACLU and other organizations that oppose the right of citizens to pray according to their conscience at public meetings. Similar legislation introduced this year in the House of Delegates was never debated in committee.

Obama Defends DOMA And The Legislative Process, Angers Homosexual Activists

Who recently said that marriage between one man and one woman is the "traditional and universally recognized form of marriage"? If you guessed Carrie Prejean, who lost her Miss California crown last week (see Fox News) — after pageant officials said she could keep it — for speaking out in favor of traditional marriage, or some right-wing Christian fanatic you are . . . wrong. However, if you guessed Tony West — Ding! Ding! Ding! You win.

Who's Tony West? He is the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division and he filed the legal brief defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in federal court June 11 (see here). The Obama administration, in fact, is asking the federal court to dismiss the case, brought on by a "married" homosexual pair.

Now, major homosexual special interest groups are going ballistic, with a leader of one blasting the president in a personal letter (see Wall Street Journal). Not only that, but the New York Times is steaming mad, too. The poor president can't get a break. 

In the brief, the administration sounds as right-wing crazy as the 57 percent of Virginians who voted for our Marriage Amendment, unintended consequences and all:

In allowing each State to withhold its recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, Congress was merely confirming longstanding conflict-of-laws principles in a valid exercise of its express power to settle such questions under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. That Clause ensures that each State retains the authority to decline to apply another State's law when it conflicts with its own public policies. DOMA is fully consistent with that constitutional principle, as it permits States to experiment with and maintain the exclusivity of their own legitimate public policies — such as whether that State chooses to recognize or reject same-sex marriages. Similarly, in relation to plaintiffs' purported "right to travel" claim, DOMA simply does not impinge upon anyone's ability to travel among the States. Again, it merely permits each State to follow its own policy with respect to marriage.

Although the administration says it wants to repeal DOMA legislatively, it also says that while it is still the law, it is constitutional, and must be defended. Admittedly, this position is surprising coming from a president who, as a law professor, said restraints had to be put on the Constitution (hear for yourself) and believes in courts making policy rather than inerpreting the law, but it is refreshing — and correct — nonethesame.

It's also fun to see liberals disillusioned with their "anointed one" whom they unceasingly, thoughtlessly adore. A little wedge on the left is never bad.

Now the Obama administration has itself in a pretzel, not only casting doubt on his sincerity on homosexual "rights" (he's abandoned other promises as well), but establishing a precedent for defending laws it disagrees with by abandoning its advocacy of judicial activism. That said, we doubt it has established a pattern, but will still watch whether the administration continues this intellectual honesty regarding the proper roles of the legislative and judicial branches.