unconstitutional

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.

Happy Birthday ObamaCare, ObamaCare Lawsuit!

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Obamacare bill becoming the Obamacare law, as President Barack Obama added his signature to the legislation. It also marks the one year anniversary of Virginia's lawsuit contesting the bill's constitutionality (and defending the Virginia Health Freedom Act), as lawyers from the Office of Attorney General moments after the signing ceremony memorably walked the petition a few blocks north in downtown Richmond to the new Federal District Courthouse that now dominates Broad Street. Ever since, the issue has dominated the news. Virginia won rounds one (beating back the feds' motion to dismiss) and two (the ruling that the law is unconstitutional). Now the Obama Justice Department is appealing to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which maintains a modest residence on Main Street in a building the Confederacy used as its administrative offices, just next door to the OAG. The appeal will be heard in May. More symbolism: Richmond's unfancied VCU soundly defeated Washington's big, bad, sophisticated Georgetown in the NCAA Basketball Tournament last weekend, the second of its three upset wins last week. A sign that Richmond does things better than D.C.? That the third time also will be a charm? That the righteous and smaller underdog, the scoffed at state capital will defeat the unjust behemoth federal city? We'll see.

In the meantime, below is a statement issued today by Governor Bob McDonnell on the twin anniversaries:

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s signing of the hastily passed 2,700 page federal healthcare bill that creates an unprecedented intrusion on America’s strong free enterprise system and places enormous unfunded mandates on the states. It was also one year ago that Virginia became the first state to file suit against the federal government over the constitutionality of this law. Today, lawmakers, state leaders, and our citizens remain as concerned about the provisions of the law as they were on the day the bill was signed.

It is estimated that implementation of the federal healthcare bill will cost Virginia $2 billion between now and 2022. While we all agree that we must make healthcare more affordable, accessible and accountable, it cannot occur in a manner that infringes on our constitutional rights, makes it harder for private-sector employers to hire new workers, creates major new government bureaucracies, raises taxes and places unfunded mandates on states that we simply cannot afford. We need to improve healthcare in our nation with common sense, free market solutions, not a federal government controlled plan.

A majority of governors across the county strongly support our call for an expedited review by the Supreme Court of the pending health care lawsuits. This will permit us to obtain certainty and finality on the law promptly, and the Obama Administration’s opposition to this request is extremely disappointing and not in the best interest of the American people. As we move past this one year anniversary, we must get clarity on a law that will have a huge impact on states, business and individuals in the years ahead, should it be implemented. We need to improve our healthcare system, but this is the wrong way to do it. It must be replaced with improvements to our excellent medical care system in a way that improves access and reduces costs, while not stifling innovation and creating unsustainable burdens on the states.

Behind The Scenes Of A National Interview At Mr. Jefferson's Capitol

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.

Virginia News Stand: May 6, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations A Goode Two-Pary Man

Former U.S. Representative Virgil Goode not only shocked the political world yesterday, he confused it as well, saying he joined the Constitution Party, but will remain a Republican. A new twist on political double speak?

We can't seem to stay out of the news, which is good. People, including the Mainstream Media, are paying attention to us. Case in point: The Richmond Times-Dispatch's ace capitol reporter, Jeff Schapiro, based the first article linked below largely on an e-mail alert we released yesterday. It's nice to know that even the Mainstream Media knows who to go to to get the pulse of Virginia's conservative movement. On the other hand, we remain a target for others, as Michael Paul Williams takes fruitless aim. But, unlike the old days, we can respond

I encourage you to take a gander at all that's here. It's one of our best News Stands ever, with lots of state news, including a fair interview with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli from WSLS-TV, and the reporter Jay Warren's observations of the AG in his blog. In the "What is our country coming to?" category, check out Phil Klein in Commentary. Some students were sent home from school for wearing USA shirts on Cinco de Mayo. We also have columns from such stars as Michael Barone, who discusses the important elections in Britain; Larry Kudlow on the debt crisis (here and abroad); and Michele Malkin on terrorists gaining U.S. citizenship. 

In National News, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund decided to get involved in the Kentucky primary after all, especially have Dr. James Dobson was misled about one candidate's pro-life record. Also, the judge who ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional comes under scrutiny.

On a more uplifting note, we hope you all had a meaningful, thoughtful and reflective National Day of Prayer. We all need it right now.

News

*Top conservative activist sees McDonnell victories, work ahead (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

*Commentary: Cuccinelli flap a sign of religion encroaching on government (Michael Paul Williams/Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Ex-Rep. Goode joins a third party, not leaving GOP (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Goode joins 3rd party (Charlottesville Daily Progress)

Goode explains why he joined Constitution Party (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Goode joins Constitution Party (Politico.com)

Louisa social worker to run as Democrat against Cantor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

AG led food drive: 1.7 million pounds of food donated by Va. lawyers (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell wants jobs panel’s recommendations in October (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Gov. McDonnell: Virginia won’t create high-risk health pool (AP/WSLS.com)

Virginia's love-hate relationship with federal spending (Washington Post)

Video

Ken Cuccinelli sits down with WSLS to talk about first 100 days in office (5:03) (WSLS-TV10/WSLS.com)

Analysis

AG Cuccinelli’s first 100 days in office . . . what have we learned? (Jay Warren/Jay's Take Blog WSLS.com)

National News

Ruling won't stop National Day of Prayer this year (CNN.com)

Judge who struck down Day of Prayer criticized (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama wants work on immigration reform this year (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Bennett appeals to GOP to let him keep Senate seat (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Consumer rules, Fed audit next on Senate agenda (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Sen. DeMint endorses Paul in US Senate race in Ky. (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Banned in the USA (Philip Klein/American Spectator Blog)

A Spend-and-Borrow Debt Mess (Larry Kudlow/GOPUSA.com)

In Downcast Britain, a Pox on All Three Parties (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

The Jihadists' Deadly Path to U.S. Citizenship (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

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.

Great Eye For The Constitution

As we've been researching the legislative voting records of Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds in preparation for media interviews, we came across something rather interesting. In 1998, then Delegate Deeds voted in favor of HB 1154, a ban on partial birth abortion. That law eventually was struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional. Then, in 2003, Senator Deeds voted against SB 1205 and HB 1541, also bans on partial birth abortion. That law was recently upheld by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

So, as a legislator, Deeds voted for a bill that was found unconstitutional and against a bill that was found constitutional. Great legal analysis by a current member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and someone who, should he be elected governor, will be tasked with analyzing the constitutionality of hundreds of bills that land on his desk.

You Think ObamaCare Is Bad? Wait To You See The United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child!

If you think ceding your freedom to choose your doctor to the government is bad, or forcing medical professionals to perform services contrary to their religious beliefs (such as abortion) is reprehensible, or eliminating employees' rights to a secret ballot in determining union representation is undemocratic, or the suppression of free speech through the re-institution of the "fairness" doctrine is unconstitutional, or if any of the other numerous proposals of government consumption of individual and family rights under consideration by the fringe left that controls Washington, D.C., concerns you — as they all should — then just wait until you hear about the . . .

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

If you think Washington controls too much of our lives now (not to mention what might happen in the next four years) wait until decisions about your child come to you from New York. No, the capital isn't reverting to the Big Apple, where it was when George Washington took the first presidential oath of office. But if the U.S. Senate approves the UNCRC, and the U.S. becomes a party to it, you may want to hesitate before you sign your children's permission slips or allow them to go to camp until you hear from the U.N.

In fact, the order won't come from U.N. HQ in New York, but from Geneva, Switzerland, where a U.N. commission will sit. These are the same clowns who gave us five-year-old masturbation.

Okay, enough from me. Let's turn it over to Terry Beatley of Lancaster, who is with ParentalRights.org, a Web site you should see to further educate yourself on the most serious assault on parental rights in American history.

The same folks that once put Syria in charge of its human rights commission and advocate for teaching five-year-olds masturbation, want to tell you how to raise your children.

Come this General Assembly, Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown) will co-patron a resolution for Virginia to formally oppose this treaty's ratification by the U.S. Senate. If ratified, it will represent the greatest loss of state and national sovereignty in our nation's history.

There also is federal legislation: H.J. Resolution 42 and S.J. Resolution 16, the parental rights amendment, would guarantee the rights of parents to raise their children without government interference. Ask your representative and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (804-739-0247) and Jim Webb (804-771-2221) to co-sponsor this legislation, and for the senators to oppose the  the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Reworking A Bad Plan Can Make It Worse (Or, The Son Of 3202 Rises)

The Special Tax Session of the General Assembly resumes tomorrow and anything can happen. Some capitol insiders are predicting the session could end by the end of the day, with nothing done. That would be good. Some think the House could pass some watered down Senate tax increase, send it back to Senate Majority Leader Dick "The People Will Pay" Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) and his crowd down the hall, who will change it and take it to a conference committee, which would be dangerous enough. But others think that if anything gets out of the House, Senate Dems will pass it immediately and let Governor Tim Kaine amend it to include all the extra taxes his heart desires (we'd say that would be Christmas in July for the liberals, except many don't believe . . . oh, never mind) and send it back for an up or down vote. If that version passes, it would be a Kaine victory at the expense (literally) of the public; a taxpayer loss. If nothing happens, believe your bottom dollar (that may be all you have left right now) that the governor and the Dems will demonize conservatives as not wanting to address the transportation "crisis." 

They better be careful for what they ask. It may be anecdotal, but evidence is the public, across all lines, doesn't seem to have much of an appetite for tax increases when gas is at $4.00 a gallon and all the ripple effect cost increases it is causing. Senator Saslaw during the regular session was fond of saying that his gas tax increase would cost the equivalent of one Big Mac meal per year. Actually, it was closer to a Ruth Chris dinner, but regardless, most families don't even have a Big Mac to cut back right now.

Not only that, but his proposal in the winter was a 5-cent increase over five years. Now, I guess because he wants us to cut back on apple turnovers, too, his bill would increase the gas tax by six cents over six years (SB 6009). That's a 35-percent increase. It doesn't appear as if this will pass. The House Republican leadership let it come to the floor in a procedural move in committee to force House Dems to vote on recordin anticipation of next year's House elections. The money is on many House Dems getting cold feet on this one.

However (there's always a "however"), the House GOP doesn't want to get left out of the game. They want to be sure no one can claim they have no ideas themselves, so instead of no ideas they are proposing old and bad ideas. They want to "fix" the aspect of last year's transportation package (HB 3202) that the Virginia Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. This new package, HB 6055, patroned by Delegate Phil Hamilton (R-93, Newport News) is more complex, but is also harmful to taxpayers and the economy. Its main feature is to give local governments in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia taxing authority in certain areas so as to spend it themselves for transportation, rather than the original, and unconstitutional, law that let unelected boards tax and spend. (To be fair, the original bill passed by the House in 2007 was to give local governments the authority; the governor amended it to give it to the unelected boards, and bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly concurred.)

While many legislators may make the political calculation that by "simply fixing" last year's plan (by voting for HB 6055) Virginians won't consider it a vote to raise taxes, they may be calculating wrong. People want the General Assembly to make hard decisions instead of asking for more money from families — again. Smart citizens know fixing a bad plan often makes it still worse. 

Among the various taxes in HB 6055 is one particularly heinous tax — a $.40 per $100 increase in the "grantor's tax" in Northern Virginia. This is a tax home sellers pay at closing. As home sales continue to plummet, and some of those sales are "short" (sold for less than what is owed on it), such a tax is reckless. 

Earlier this month, while detailing the state's current financial picture, Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner revealed a devastating downward trend in home sales to the House Appropriations Committee. At the time, several Republicans appropriately drilled Secretary Wagner regarding Governor Kaine's transportation proposal that included a grantor's tax. It would be peculiar for those same legislators to agree to one now, but this is the General Assembly, after all. Regardless of whether the tax is introduced by Democrats or Republicans, the governor, the Senate or the House, the effect on the housing industry is the same — it will ensure a housing recession.

HB 6055 also includes a $20 increase in the car inspection fee in Hampton Roads, an extra $100 fee on those who receive their first drivers license (in N.Va.), a hotel tax (N.Va.) and a rental car tax (in both areas), among others. Americans For Tax Reform mailed each legislator who signed its No Tax Pledge that a vote to pass the tax-increasing buck to localities is still a tax increase and violates the pledge.

Four years ago, then-Governor Mark Warner cited education, health and public safety to pass the largest tax hike in the Commonwealth's history. Apparently, in 2004, transportation was no longer the "crisis" Warner had said it was in 2002 when he tried unsuccessfully to pass regional sales tax hikes for transportation via referenda in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Now, Governor Kaine and some allies in the legislature have decided to dust off the transportation "crisis" to raise taxes. This action comes only a few months after they proposed raiding the Transportation Trust Fund for non-transportation expenditures.

Some of the same lawmakers who opposed a constitutional amendment restricting the Transportation Trust Fund to transportation-only spending now support a tax hike.  Even Governor Kaine, prior to his election, endorsed a "lock-box" to secure transportation funds from general fund spending and tax increases. Three years later, he has done nothing to support efforts to secure one. So what we're left with is a thinly veiled attempt to raise taxes on Virginia's families simply to raise money, not specifically for transportation. 

Besides that, it appears HB 6055 is more flexible than a Russian gymnast. Specific projects are to be carried out "in consultation with members of the General Assembly" — whatever that might mean. Sadly, the level of linguistic complexity required to raise some taxes in some areas, that affect only some people in order to fix some transportation needs, all while appearing as if no taxes are being raised, makes for a legislative nightmare.     

The bottom line is that for over a decade the General Assembly has bowed to the powerful education union and funded public education incorrectly, refused to reduce spending in pet projects, and counted on Virginians to pony up under the threat of disaster. If this mentality doesn't change now, in difficult economic times, what will it be like in good times? Believe me, it will be Bonnie and Clyde all over again, with a new crisis (health care or Medicare, perhaps?) and guess who they think is the bank?

The good news is that this can be stopped. Many legislators are being pressured by big-time lobbyists of big businesses who will benefit from government spending, from the teachers union which wants to ensure their portion of the pie isn't touched, and other special interest groups. But when enough concerned voters let their senators and delegates know enough is enough, it gives them the courage to resist the special interest pressures (click here to contact them). Instead of raising taxes, it is time for them to get some new ideas, such as comprehensive spending and budget reform.

Virginia Catholic Conference Statement On The Fourth Circuit Panel's Ruling

Virginia Catholic Conference Executive Director Jeff Caruso issued the following statement in reaction to the 2-1 decision to strike down Virginia's partial-birth abortion ban by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals:

I cannot imagine that protecting the gruesome practice of partial-birth abortion is what our country's Founders had in mind when they crafted our Constitution over 200 years ago. Yet, somehow two judges have found a way to declare Virginia's ban on the procedure unconstitutional, and to thereby thwart  — at least for now  — the clear and common sense of our state's citizens that a child who is almost entirely born should never be the victim of this brutal practice. I certainly hope a higher court will remedy the grave harm done by the 4th Circuit panel.

The Virginia Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the Commonwealth's Catholic bishops and their two dioceses. There are 633,220 registered Catholics in Virginia: 413,360 in the Diocese of Arlington and 219,860 in the Diocese of Richmond.