the constitution

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.

Obamacare Unconstitutional! AG Cuccinelli's Follow-Up From Court's Decision

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli just sent this e-mail to supporters:

As I told you earlier today, Virginia won the first round of the constitutional fight over the federal health care law. I also told you I'd get back to you with more details later in the day, and I'm keeping my promise.

I will tell you up front that I will also go into still more detail later this week — when time allows.

Arguments and Outcomes

There were two basic arguments in this case.

First, Virginia argued that the individual mandate was beyond the power of Congress and the President to impose under the Constitution. Specifically, Congress claimed that their regulatory power under the Commerce Clause allowed them to order you to buy their government-approved health insurance, even if you decide not to buy health insurance.

The judge ruled that the federal government does not have the power to compel you to buy health insurance as part of its attempt to regulate the entire field of health care and health insurance. Thus, Virginia won this argument.

Second, the federal government advanced a 'fallback' argument in case it lost on its commerce clause argument. The feds' fallback argument was that the financial penalty you have to pay if you don't buy the government mandated health insurance is a tax.

This may sound like an odd argument from a political standpoint — usually they say everything is NOT a tax (in fact, they argued the penalty was not a tax while they were trying to get the bill passed); however, they changed position after the bill became law to try and save the bill. What they were trying to do was to get the courts to agree that because the penalty would presumably raise some revenue, it was therefore a 'tax' under the taxing and spending for the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution.

No judge in the country has bought this argument, and Judge Hudson was no exception. He ruled that the taxing power of Congress does not save the bill, because the penalty for not buying the mandated health insurance is not a tax.

The federal government only had to win on either of these two arguments, while Virginia needed to win both to prevail, and we won both!

What's Next?

Certainly the federal government will appeal their loss in the district court to the 4th circuit court of appeals within the next 30 days. And whichever side loses in the 4th circuit will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. And no one has any serious doubts that ultimately the constitutionality of the individual mandate will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That could take approximately (very rough approximation) two years. We are discussing with the Department of Justice accelerating the case, and those discussions have been very cordial thus far. More on that later.

Conclusion

Today is a great day for the Constitution. Today the Constitution has been protected from the federal government, and remember, an important reason for the constitution in the first place was to limit the power of the federal government.

Today is also a day of a small degree of vindication. When we first filed suit, the screeching of the liberals was deafening. Everything from accusing us of playing politics instead of practicing law, to filing what they called a 'frivolous' lawsuit.

I want you to know, that our team makes decisions based on the Constitution and the laws. Period. We deal with the consequences of our decisions separately, but first and foremost we have been and will continue to be true to the Constitution and laws of the United States and Virginia, regardless of whether it's easy or hard in any particular case.

Fimian Receives Cuccinelli Endorsement For 11th District GOP Nomination

There was more big new in the increasingly high profile Virginia Republican 11th Congressional District nomination campaign. Overshadowed by the Tea Party dominated 5th and 2nd district races, Republicans Keith Fimian and Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity have methodically raised the decibel level over charges and counter charges of who has raised taxes and who's more electable in the general election against first-term incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly. Today, Fimian made more news: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli endorsed him. His endorsement statement reads:

Today, I am proud to endorse Keith Fimian for Congress. Keith's experience and record of creating jobs here in Northern Virginia makes him an ideal candidate to face off against Gerry Connolly this fall.

Keith is staking out the same conservative positions now as he did in 2008, and his steadfast support of the Constitution is an asset we could use on Capitol Hill. And unlike Gerry Connolly, Keith has shown that he will not change his tune to win votes. He will stand up to the Washington insiders and fight for what is right, no matter what.

As an entrepreneur, small businessman and job creator, Keith Fimian is exactly the kind of leader we need in Congress right now to turn this economy around. He will focus on creating jobs, cutting spending and he'll work hard to get government out of the way of businesses doing business. Keith Fimian is 100% pro-life — he's someone we can trust to always vote to defend our traditional values and stand up for families.

If Republicans are going to make a meaningful comeback in 2010, we need candidates like Keith who will carry their conservative principles to Congress — not return to the business-as-usual politics that lost us the majority in the first place.

Keith Fimian has the qualities and experience we need to win in November. We need Keith Fimian in Congress, and that's why he's earned my endorsement. ...

The endorsement by Cuccinelli, the most popular statewide official among conservative and libertarian activists, and a rare pol not afraid to jump in where principle matters, should be a real asset to Fimian among primary voters. Fimian, who started and runs U.S. Inspect, the nation’s largest provider of residential and commercial property inspection services, ran a spirited campaign but lost the Northern Virginia swing district to Connolly in 2008, a poisoned year for Republicans. The seat was open due to the retirement of former moderate GOP Congressman Tom Davis. It is targeted by state and national Republicans.

Attorney General Cuccinelli To Keynote Prince William Family Alliance Gala May 17

The Prince William Family Alliance will hold its Gala Dinner Monday, May 17, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Manassas. A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. with the dinner beginning at 7:30. The Prince William Family Alliance is affiliated with the Family Foundation and has done a tremendous job reinvigorating values voters in Northern Virginia over the last couple of years.  The Gala's keynote speaker is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. His topic will be, "The Constitution: Guardian of our Families." Tickets for the dinner are $50 each, and sponsorships are available. For more information, click here for a full-color Gala invitation flyer that details the event as well as ticket and sponsorship opportunities; read and/or print it, or forward it or this link to interested friends.

The Prince William Family Alliance is a 501(c)4 local grassroots affiliate of The Family Foundation of Virginia. PWFA has influenced public policy in Prince William County for several years. It distributes voter guides every election cycle, monitors local political and policy debates, and helped the Marriage Amendment carry Prince William County in 2006. We hope you will join us the evening of May 17!

Hank Johnson: Poster Boy For Liberal Genius

How often does the mainstream media portray liberals as the enlightened, the brilliant, the smart? Conservatives, on the other hand, are flat-earthers, dumb, Neanderthal. Yet time after time we see and hear liberal icons say things that should disqualify them from the ranks of the serious, such as Barack "57 states" Obama, which would go unnoticed except for the new and alternative media. It's bad enough they want to redistribute wealth and control people and business, worse still that they purposefully disregard the Constitution. But when they have completely lost the plot and substitute absurdity for thoughtfulness, by what right do they command credibility . . . from anyone? So, this is who we have making the decisions for us? U.S. Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team (he's a regional whip), thinks Guam will "capsize" under the weight of a deployment of 5,000 Marines! Just as revealing is that  no one from the Speaker's team, much less Johnson, has shown the slightest bit of embarrassment. It smacks of arrogance and elitism. If this thinking is the new normal in the Age of Obama, no wonder these  people think they've "fixed" health care.

Rep. Johnson thinks islands capsize and he's making decisions at the highest levels of the House of Representatives.

Robo Kaine Desperate To Salvage Shannon

The DNC Chairman, Governor Tim Kaine (contact here) sounded off last night in the attorney general's campaign. Literally. He voiced a "robo call" on behalf of Democrat AG candidate Steve Shannon. Unfortunately, he really didn't have much to say about Delegate Shannon's qualifications. Instead, he launched into a vicious attack on Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, using a Washington Post editorial as cover for calling him "bigoted" (see Norm's Leahy's first-hand account at Tertium Quids). I, myself, got a call from an African-American friend immediately after he received the call. He reasoned the calls were going into African-American neighborhoods to pump the fear of Satan into otherwise disinterested black voters. But they also went into upper income, socially conscious (i.e., "moderate") white neighborhoods, too, the areas that the GOP seems to be gaining back this campaign. Which makes sense: with a double digit lead, the only way to defeat Senator Cuccinelli is to expand the voter universe and flip some votes (or get them to skip the AG ballot).

What is interesting is why the DNC chairman and his hacks think they can pick off Senator Cuccinelli. In the SurveyUSA poll, out today, he has the largest lead of the three (20 points!) — and even the Democrat Public Policy Poll says he leads in all regions of the commonwealth, including the liberal bastion of Northern Virginia. (How can that be?) The answer? Trashing the constitution and our founding principles. By parodying Senator Cuccinelli's principled stands and record of adhering strictly to the constitution, liberals think they can caricature him into something abominable because adhering to Life and Liberty aren't nearly so important as doling out government-style happiness.

No matter whether one interprets "bigotry" to be the racial kind or the "intolerant of other lifestyles" kind (the call left that open to your interpretation), it's interesting to note that it was Senator Cuccinelli who accepted, attended, spoke and stayed late to meet people at the Virginia NAACP's recent forum and Delegate Shannon who accepted — but stood them up. It's also strange that Governor Kaine thought highly enough of Senator Cuccinelli to work with him on this summer's special session to remedy the impact on Virginia from the U.S. Supreme Court's Melendez-Diaz decision. (You remember . . .the session Shannon called a "political stunt.")

Even stranger is Delegate Shannon's previous dinner engagements at the home of Senator Cuccinelli. Guess he was an okay guy before he went up double digits, huh? 

Ever since he took the DNC job, Governor Kaine has not been able to decide whether he is governor or desperate partisan in chief. His level of campaigning is beneath the dignity of the office Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson once occupied.

Chaplain Religious Freedom Bill Dies in Senate Courts

This morning the Senate Courts of Justice Committee defeated HB 2314 patroned by Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax). This bill would have restored to the Commonwealth's State Trooper chaplains the religious liberty right to pray according to the dictates of their conscience. This restoration of freedom is necessary after State Police Superintendent Stephen Flaherty issued an administrative order that chaplains can no longer pray "in the name of Jesus." This decision has been strongly supported by Governor Kaine's administration despite the pursuant resignations of six chaplains.  In a long and very contentious meeting, HB 2314 was the final bill to be heard. Testimony was offered on both sides. (Video of the debate will be available here tomorrow.) Joining The Family Foundation in speaking in support of the bill was the state Solicitor General Steve McCullough, the Rev. Sherylann Bragton of City of Love Ministries and Dr. Jack Knapp of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists. In opposition to the bill were the ACLU, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Interfaith Center for Public Policy and a Jewish police chaplain from northern Virginia.  

Opponents used their typical arguments, such as stating that in order to minister to all people one must strip any religious references out of their prayers. The police chaplain stated, "When I don my police uniform I am no longer representing my congregation as a Jewish clergy. Instead I am representing the government." 

While he may choose to leave his particular faith at the door when he ministers to others, to have the state require that one minister in this way is not acceptable. Delegate Carrico continued to remind the committee that the state police policy of censorship was issued not as the result of a single complaint of proselytizing but instead out of an ideological agenda.

Leading the charge to defeat the bill was Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg). Instead of outright voting against the bill, Senator Norment chose to do something even more detrimental to the effort being waged by those who seek to uphold First Amendment freedoms — he offered amendments accepted by a majority of the committee in which he inserted "nonsectarian" before each mention of prayer in the bill. As Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) pointed out to the committee and myriad of reporters following this hearing, a plain reading of this new language indicated that the amended bill would enshrine the state superintendent's policy into perpetuity. It was an amendment intended to kill the entire purpose of the bill.

Even after the killer amendment was accepted, the bill died by a majority vote. If you are interested to know where people really stood on this bill, those who voted against the Norment amendment actually support the religious liberty rights upon which this nation was founded: Senators Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ryan McDougle (R-4, Hanover), Robert Hurt (R-19, Chatham) and Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville). 

Despite the testimony of opponents to this legislation the facts are clear — neither the Constitution nor the Courts of the United States require or compel a faithless, non-religious, nonsectarian prayer at government events. Sadly, as is often the case for some members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, the facts and the law are but a distasteful distraction. 

Unfortunately, for six state police chaplains, this decision renders meaningless the protection of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which states:

"That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

Quote Of The Day

Just a few seconds ago (he's still speaking) Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico), on the House floor, speaking against HJ 725, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle), which would add private property right protections from eminent domain to the constitution:

"I've never claimed to be an expert on anything. But I used to teach con (constitutional) law."