justice Department

Tomorrow Is Primary Day!

Tomorrow is primary day in Virginia.  There are only a few, but these elections will determine several of the nominees from both parties to run for the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate in November. Primaries normally are held in June in Virginia, but because this is a redistricting year, primary day was pushed back to give the General Assembly time to draw new districts (and for Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law after he vetoed a blatantly partisan Democrat Senate plan first sent to him), as well as wait on Justice Department approval as per The Voting Rights Act. We encourage all Virginians who live in a district with a primary to make an informed decision and vote tomorrow. With more and more decisions made at the state level to combat the increasing encroachment of the federal government, as well as the perennially important issues such as life, marriage, school choice, parental authority, property rights, religious liberty, transparency and government reforms, having principled conservative leadership at Mr. Jefferson's capitol is more important than ever. Turnout is expected to be very light — less than 10 percent — so each vote will carry more weight and be more decisive.

There are several hotly contested primaries, especially for various Senate seats around the commonwealth, particularly on the Republican side — most likely due to the perceived momentum it has after the last two elections cycles where it cleaned up statewide offices and congressional seats. The political atmosphere is not unlike four years ago when Democrats came out of the woodwork to seek nominations to run against a wounded Republican brand, itself having been manhandled in the 2005 and 2006 elections. Democrats subsequently won the Virginia Senate from the Republicans as well as the state for Barack Obama and a U.S. Senate Seat in 2008. 

Are we in for  symmetrical reversal? It all starts tomorrow. 

If you are not yet aware if you have been redistricted into a new House or Senate district and if there is a primary where you live, below are links to today's primaries.  If you are unsure of which district you live in, click here and fill out the required information or call your local registrar. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Voting is at your regular precinct polling station.

Democrat Primaries – House and Senate

Democrat Primaries – Local

Republican Primaries – House and Senate

Republican Primaries - Local

We make no predictions about tomorrow or even November, except for this: If the Democrats retain control of the Virginia Senate, it will mean, according to the Mainstream Media, that President Obama is well on his way to reelection. If the Republicans win, it won't gain a headline outside the Commonwealth's borders.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Tomorrow Morning On DOMA, TFF Allies To Testify, Attend If Possible

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow morning to discuss S.598 — a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (read the bill here). Approved in 1996 by 84 percent of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and protects states such as Virginia from being forced to accept another state's recognition of same-sex marriages. Both the House and the Senate have introduced bills to repeal DOMA and President Obama has called DOMA unconstitutional. His Justice Department decided, in the middle of the legal process, to stop defending DOMA in court, a radical shirking of constitutional responsibility to defend the laws of the country when challenged. The defeat of these repeal DOMA bills are crucial to the stability of God-ordained, traditional marriage as the bedrock of our society.

Several excellent scholars will testify in favor of keeping DOMA, all allies all of The Family Foundation: Tom Minnery (executive director of CitizenLink), Austin Nimocks (senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, see excellent blog post on marriage, here), and Edward Whelan (president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, see the written testimony he will present tomorrow). If you live in Northern Virginia, and if it is at all possible, please attend the hearing tomorrow morning to show your support for DOMA. Because of the anticipated size of the crowd, the hearing has been moved from the Dirksen Senate Office Building to room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. Although the hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. attendees need to be in line no later than 8:00 to get a sea. We ask those who cannot that you keep Tom, Austin and Edward in your prayers as they defend for us the definition of marriage. (The proceedings may very well end up on C-SPAN and/or archived its web site.)

Is It Howell Or Rorschach?

One of the most unsightly of all the sausage making that is the legislative process is redistricting. Every 10 years, all 140 General Assembly districts, as well as Virginia's Congressional districts, must be redrawn to reflect population shifts as accounted for in the census. The districts can get pretty contorted, to say the least, with compactness and communities of interest giving way to snake-like shapes that slither from one end of the state to another (not that Virginia is an exception, either). Complicating matters is that whatever the General Assembly and governor agree to must be approved by the Justice Department because Virginia falls under the Voting Rights Act. But there are several rare dynamics at play this year. For one, it's the first time since Reconstruction that opposite parties control the two chambers during a redistricting year. As each chamber has prerogative over its districts, traditionally they don't interfere with each other's plan. However, with Governor Bob McDonnell as a GOP backstop to Senate Democrat mischief, Senate Dems laid down the law: Instead of two bills this year, anything coming from the House would be attached to the Senate's bill as a way of safeguarding its new districts from the governor's veto or amendments. If not, Senate Dems promised stalemate on the House plan. Interestingly, in this interview (read transcript) on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU-FM in March, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) was asked what the governor's role was in redistricting and he replied, "sign or amend" the bill. No mention of the veto option.

Here's more from the senator that day (hear audio), starting partisan, then trying to soften:

Well, if I lose a few seats as a result of redistricting, and I'm in the majority, I'm not doing a very good job. ... And I would simply say, well, you know, our goal is to make the Democratic districts, particularly the marginal ones, a little bit better than they are now. I'm not greedy. I'm not trying to put all the Republicans out of business by any stretch. They didn't do that to us 10 years ago. And we're not gonna do that to them.

So much for that. Governor McDonnell vetoed the bill sent to him last week anyway, primarily because of the dysfunctional and obscenely drawn Senate districts that drew fire from groups as varied as Prince William County to the NAACP (see Jenifer Buske at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). While the House plan passed with all but 10 Democrat votes, the Senate plan — which could add up to three Democrat seats per the Richmond Times-Dispatch — was divided on party lines, 22-18. No wonder. None of this was a surprise.

More dynamics: While there is time to settle the Congressional districts because those elections are not until next year, all 140 General Assembly seats are up this year. Already, primaries have been pushed back to August to accommodate the readjusted districts. Candidates filing to run still don't know where they are running. Even if the parties and governor come to an agreement, there's this: This is the first redistricting since the Voting Rights Act with a Democrat president. Who knows what changes his Justice Department might demand. If all of this can't be wrapped up by a time certain, the entire process for both chambers gets transferred to judges.

But today there is hope. After he bragged that he wouldn't change "a dot or a comma," declared with bravado he wouldn't "surrender" and dared the governor to issue a second veto (Ros Helderman at the Post) for fear of sending it to the unelected judiciary, Senator Saslaw backed down. Now, Senators Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) are leading a bipartisan working group to come up with a new plan (the Post). But is it false hope? Senator Howell echoed Senator Saslaw's original sentiments: "We won’t negotiate away our majority." But then Senator Saslaw told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, "There are some of us who are going to try to . . . get things worked out in an amicable fashion. We're determined to try to make the process work right." The whiplash changes in attitude are enough to require psychological testing. More on that in a second.

Senator Howell needs to understand that she doesn't determine the majority. If she did, there would be no need for elections. Voters determine majorities. One wonders what she and Senator Saslaw fear. Only three years ago, liberals heralded Virginia as blue. The existing Senate districts were good enough to flip a one-time 24-16 GOP majority to 22-18 Democrat. If Senate Democrats are so confident in their ideas and performance the last four years as the majority, what's with the gerrymandering that has split some localities into as many as eight districts?

Grossed out yet by the sausage making? Then you may or may not want to take this little test based on Senator Howell's vetoed plan. The districts' shapes are so contorted one might think they are ink blots on a Rorschach test. Click here to take the Is It Howell Or Rorschach? test. Disclaimer: Score does not correlate to actual state of mental health, but may indicate the insecurity of some Senate Democrats.

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.

Breaking: Cuccinelli Formally Seeks Expedited Health Care Hearing To Supreme Court

Within the last hour, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that he has formally petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an expedited hearing on Virginia's challenge to the new federal health care law. This is the news release from his office:

RICHMOND (February 3, 2011) — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that Virginia will file a petition to ask the United States Supreme Court to take Virginia's health care lawsuit now, as opposed to waiting for the case to first be decided by the court of appeals. The Petition for Certiorari Before Judgment in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Sebelius will be filed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of the United States Supreme Court.

"Given the uncertainty caused by the divergent rulings of the various district courts on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we feel that it is necessary to seek resolution of this issue as quickly as possible,” said Cuccinelli. “Currently, state governments and private businesses are being forced to expend enormous amounts of resources to prepare to implement a law that, in the end, may be declared unconstitutional. Regardless of whether you believe the law is constitutional or not, we should all agree that a prompt resolution of this issue is in everyone’s best interest."

Normally, appeals of decisions of United States district courts are first heard in the federal courts of appeals. But Rule 11 provides that an immediate review in the U.S. Supreme Court is permissible "upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in" the Supreme Court.

Cuccinelli noted, "Rule 11 is the exception to the general rule, but this case and the other cases challenging the constitutionality of PPACA are truly exceptional in their own right. There are a number of suits pending throughout the country challenging the constitutionality of PPACA. Presently, 28 states have filed suits challenging the authority of Congress to enact this law. That, in and of itself, is exceptional and makes the cases excellent candidates for immediate review in the Supreme Court.

"We did not make this decision lightly. Given his unique responsibilities to fund and implement PPACA as Governor of Virginia, Governor McDonnell is particularly concerned about the possibility of wasting precious and strained taxpayer dollars preparing for a law that may well be struck down. Recognizing the tremendous amount of time and resources that are and will be expended to implement a law that two federal judges have ruled contains unconstitutional provisions, Lieutenant Governor Bolling and Speaker Howell have joined the governor in requesting that my office seek expedited review. Additionally, I have been encouraged to attempt to expedite this case by Democrats as well as Republicans in Virginia's General Assembly, and of course, the bipartisan passage of Virginia's Health Care Freedom Act last year was the very first step in this entire process here in the commonwealth.

"Despite the fact that the Department of Justice has not agreed to join in a Rule 11 motion, in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to set an expedited schedule for its appeal of Virginia's district court victory, the Justice Department stated, 'The constitutionality of [PPACA] has public policy implications of the highest magnitude.' In other words, according to the Justice Department itself, a case cannot have public policy implications that are more important than this case. We agree and feel that reinforces the fitting nature of our request for immediate review in the Supreme Court," Cuccinelli said.

The Petition for Certiorari and Appendix are currently being assembled by the legal printer for the attorney general and will be filed with the court as soon as is practicable.

Sign The Petition: Defense Of Marriage Act Needs An Appropriate Defense By The Obama Justice Department

Even as the fallout from the Prop 8 ruling is still getting sorted, another legal proceeding dealing with a major marriage protection law is ongoing. But barely. Whereas the defenders of California's Marriage Amendment filed a prompt appeal and yesterday won a stay on San Francisco Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker's deplorable decision at least until the end of the year (San Francisco Chronicle), the Obama Justice Department's weak and meek defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act appears to have "thrown the match" and it says it is not certain whether it will appeal a recent Massachusetts Federal District Court's decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional. As Chuck Donovan writes at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog:

Echoing some of the most notorious boxing matches in the history of the ring, the Obama-Kagan Justice Department engaged in what even one supporter of same-sex marriage, the distinguished constitutional law scholar Richard Epstein, labeled "almost like collusive litigation," where the adversaries in a case are secretly on the same side.

The collusion boils down to this: attorneys in the Obama Justice Department, who have sworn that they will "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office" in which they serve, abandoned not one but all four of the bases for DOMA asserted by Congress. "Congress" in this instance was no small minority cobbled together at the last instant for legislation it scarcely debated, but a bipartisan majority that encompassed 85 percent of both houses of Congress, joined by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton) who had access to comprehensive reports that amplified the many grounds for DOMA.

The Justice Department’s concessions were crucial to the outcome in the case. As Judge Joseph Tauro noted, he felt bound to address the detailed justifications Congress provided for DOMA only briefly, because, "For the purposes of this litigation, the government has disavowed Congress’s stated justifications for the statute[.]"

As Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (see FRC Blog) wrote yesterday: 

The Defense of Marriage Act merely defines marriage — for federal purposes — as being between one man and one woman, and protects states from having to change their state definitions. Not surprisingly, a liberal court in Massachusetts — after a weak defense from the Obama Justice Department — ruled DOMA unconstitutional. Amazingly, the federal government appears to be dragging its feet as they contemplate whether or not to EVEN APPEAL the decision! If the Department of Justice does not appeal, it is unlikely outside defenders of marriage will even be allowed to defend marriage in court.

The Department of Justice is supposed to vigorously defend statutes passed by Congress, not to roll over to appease President Obama's political base.

So, FRC Action has started a nationwide petition to hold the Justice Department accountable and to do its job — appeal and aggressively defend the law of the land. Please take time to sign the petition (click here to sign) and send a clear message to the Obama administration. He has said he believes marriage is between one man and one woman (ABCNews.com). It's time he proves it with a vigorous defense of federal law he is sworn to uphold.

The White House's Response To Virginia's Round One Health Care Win

Perusing liberal blogs today has been a hoot. The Left Wing is in hysterics (for example, see Blue Virginia). At least it uses a nice picture of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. More composed, of course, but no less disingenuous, is the White House itself. Stephanie Cutter, writing on its blog, posted the following:

Having failed in the legislative arena, opponents of reform are now turning to the courts in an attempt to overturn the work of the democratically elected branches of government.

The federal government believes this procedural ruling is in error and conflicts with long-standing and well-established legal precedents . . . designed to preserve the "judiciary’s proper role in our system of government" and to ensure that our courts do not become forums for political debates.

Now that this preliminary stage has ended, the government fully expects to prevail on the merits. The Affordable Care Act falls well within Congress’s power to regulate under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause.

So little written, so much nonsense. Regarding activist courts, the Left Wing should know better. Much better. But they often prove not understand the U.S. Constitution — or purposefully misguide: The courts were put in place as a safeguard against government encroachment on individual liberty. So, when the government overreaches (especially when new requirements are established), individuals, localities and states have recourse. It is the check against the ruling class which, if not held back, could easily consolidate all power unto itself. By the White House's logic no law can be overturned as long as it is — by definition — passed by Congress and signed by the president. Absurd!

Real judicial activism is legislating from the bench, rather than undoing a law, or something not previously on the books. So the White House has it only half correct, but it is liberals who, over the decades, when failing to get legislation passed into law, have resorted to seeking decrees from courts to invent laws and "rights" nowhere to be found in the constitution. There was no more frank admission of this than the infamous remark by now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor where she said, "The court of appeals is where policy is made." (See YouTube.)

The White House also cities numerous clauses, a debate it assuredly doesn't want to have — at least not before it finishes debating itself. None of the clauses mentioned empower the government to force people to purchases something they may not use. Knowing this, the Justice Department argued at the hearing to dismiss on July 1 that the law comes under the taxing authority of the constitution. But at every turn, including his campaign and during the shambolic legislative process leading up to the health care vote, Barack Obama and Congressional liberals said it was not a tax bill.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama went so far as to oppose an individual mandate, opposition to which is the thrust of Attorney General Cuccinelli's argument (see news release). That the White House and its own DOJ are on separate pages tells us much and perhaps liberal bloggers need rant at them before taking aim on the attorney general. Even bloggers at the White House.

Prophetic Article? A Must Read To Understand The Future

A Barack Obama presidency has me scared for a long time for a number of reasons. There's the pending economic socialism and the disregard for innocent human life, among many urgent issues. During the campaign the many to whom I expressed my concern would respond with the conventional wisdom that he'll mess it up and the country will swing back to conservatism in the mid-term elections, as in 1994. (That's a big "if," predicated on whether the so-called conservatives in Congress remain scared of their own shadows and remain addicted to "big-government conservatism.")  I would reply to those who responded that way, "Not so fast." Conventional wisdom and the old models don't apply anymore. With such large majorities in Congress and control of the White House, the extreme, Angry Left will ram through several initiatives to permanently seal its institutional advantages. For example, the liberal media, which crossed from only being biased to all out left wing advocacy this campaign, will be cemented by the passing of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, minimizing (if not completely eliminating) conservative talk radio. Advantage, Left Wing Media.

How about the so-called Freedom of Choice Act? Senator Obama said it's the first bill he would sign. It would eliminate all state restrictions on abortion. (No need for state legislatures, then, huh?) Gone would be all parental consent, notification and regulations against partial birth abortion. Advantage, the government grant and profit machine known as Planned Parenthood (see LifeSiteNews.com, here).

The union card check bill, if it becomes law (see The Las Vegas Sun, here), will end the secret ballot in union organizing campaigns. This will create countless new union shops. Aside from the economic peril of making American industry less competitive, this bill will add tens of thousands of new union members to union rolls — along with their compulsary dues, which go to union political action committees and used to elect leftist candidates. Advantage, corrupt Leftist union bosses.

The public education establishment, which largely dumbs down children K-12, and the college education establishment, which largely indoctrinates them because, by then, students have been conditioned to feel rather than think, will get new, large amounts of federal grants to run their politically correct campus societies, further preaching liberal doctrine under the guise of teaching, both in the classroom and in campus regulations such as speech codes. Advantage, Leftist educrats and teachers union leaders.

I could go on. But someone else has for me. Give me one more minute.

When I extolled this theory, some saw credence. Some thought the conventional wisdom would magically re-write history in two years. Many thought I was looking for the man on the grassy knoll. My response was that I would write a thesis on it. End of minute. I don't have to write the thesis. Quin Hillyer, of The American Spectator, has. I don't know whether to celebrate that my theory has been vindicated or mad that I didn't publish it and get compensated for the idea first. Regardless, Hillyer's "Saul Alinsky Takes the White House" (click here) is a must read to understand what Christian conservatives and those who believe in traditional family values and limited constitutional government will face starting January 20, 2009. It is something we need to be prepared for and ready to work against — work very hard against.

Here's an excerpt:

Watch what Michael Barone called the Obama "thugocracy" use the Justice Department to stifle dissent. Anybody who complains about vote fraud will be charged with "vote suppression." Anybody who complains about DoJ's actions will be charged with interfering with an investigation. Anybody who denies having interfered will be charged with perjury. Likewise, anybody who peacefully protests abortion clinics or the use of state-sponsored racial quotas will be charged with a civil rights violation. And the accused won't be able to look to the Supreme Court for help: Anthony Kennedy's "evolving standards" of justice will evolve to match the new zeitgeist, providing a 5-4 majority for the administration. Meanwhile, of course, Obama's other appointments will be filling up the rest of the judiciary at a rapid clip, with nobody able to stop them.

Other ways the Obama axis will tilt the playing field: "card check" legislation to eliminate secret ballots in unionizing and to force union victories in contract negotiations. Provision after provision giving favors to the trial bar so it can sue enemies into submission. Copious new regulations, especially environmental, to be used selectively to ensnare other conservative malcontents. Invasive IRS audits of conservative think tanks, other conservative 501 organizations, and PACs.

What Ohio officials did in rifling through so many of Joe Wurzelbacher's files will serve as ample precedent. (Just watch, by the way: Nobody ever will be effectively disciplined for the violation of Wurzelbacher's rights.)

And, only when the time is right and the ground (or air) has been well prepared, will come the grand-daddy of all fights, the re-enactment of the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine."

It's not just Joe the Plumber. Remember Barbara West, the Florida anchor who dared asked Joe Biden tough questions? Her station was blacklisted. Three newspapers who endorsed John McCain had their political reporters thrown off the Obama press plane (see The Washington Times, here). That's before he was elected! But surely there are bigger fish to fry — perhaps IRS and government intimidation of churches and pastors? By the way, what's with the 250,000 member security force Senator Obama promised? (See Blue Collar Muse, here.)

The coming socialist, one-party state only will be a crazy conspiracy theory if people fully understand what's at stake and decide to get engaged, stay vigilant, remain active and work hard. Work very hard — starting now.