Updated Statement By TFF President Victoria Cobb Regarding AG Herring's Decision Not To Defend Marriage AmendmentJan 23, 2014
STATEMENT FROM VICTORIA COBB, PRESIDENT OF THE FAMILY FOUNDATION OF VIRGINIA, REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL'S DECISION TO NOT DEFEND CONSTITUTION
The decision by the Attorney General is not surprising, but it is disappointing and frightening. It's disappointing that he wouldn't be clear about his intentions on this issue while campaigning for the office. More importantly, it's frightening that politicians like the Attorney General feel that they can pick and choose which aspects of the constitution they deem worthy to defend and apply. Whether one agrees with the marriage amendment or not, the idea that over a million Virginia citizens can be left defenseless by the Attorney General after legally voting for an amendment that he himself supported is chilling.
It is well settled that laws of the commonwealth are presumed constitutional. The burden is on the party challenging the law to demonstrate that it is unconstitutional. In Virginia, the Attorney General is responsible to defend all the laws of the Commonwealth, whether he personally agrees with them or not. This has been the standard for decades and has separated Virginia from other states where the Attorney General is more of a political activist. Attorney General Herring is pursuing his personal political views rather than defending the constitution of the commonwealth.
It is unprecedented for an Attorney General not only to refuse to defend a state law or Constitution, at least by hiring outside counsel, but is actually taking a position against his client, the people of Virginia. This is the action of an activist Attorney General, not someone dedicated to the rule of law.
The Attorney General claims he is making his decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions from last year, but neither of those decisions struck down or in any way invalidated state marriage amendments. One had nothing to do with a state amendment. The other involved the Attorney General of California not defending that state’s marriage amendment, and the Supreme Court dismissed the case saying that the citizens didn't have standing before the court.