Full Senate To Finally Vote On Major Religious Liberty Constitutional Amendment!Jan. 31, 2013
This year, Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta) has introduced a state constitutional amendment, SJ 287, that would help clarify and restore some of our religious liberties. (The resolution is co-patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax). It passed the Senate Privileges and Elections committee earlier this week after lengthy debate, and will be voted on by the full Senate early next week. This is the first time in recent memory that a religious liberty amendment has been voted on by the full Senate!
For years, the free speech and free religious exercise rights of Americans have been slowly chipped away by federal courts. Now, in many places in Virginia, we no longer can pray at the start of a local government meeting, our kids can't mention their faith in graduation speeches, and far too often government bureaucrats silence religious speech in an attempt to enforce the "separation of church and state" without understanding constitutional rights.
The debate over religious liberty has surrounded the establishment clause and free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Secular liberals have used the establishment clause as a mallet to bludgeon the free exercise of religion, essentially arguing, as they did in the committee, that "private" religious free exercise is just fine (most of the time) but as soon as such activity becomes "public," such as praying at a government meeting, it is a violation of the establishment clause.
They are basically stating that when the government simply allows public free exercise of faith it is "endorsing" or "establishing" that faith, which makes it, in their eyes, unconstitutional. (Never mind the nonsense of the argument — as if there is one unified Christian faith, or that a prayer at a public event constitutes a particular, sectarian religious service.)
Such logic relegates faith to nothing more than a private matter, silencing our voice in the public square. It flies in the face of the Founders' vision and endangers the freedom of all faiths. Unfortunately, because much of the damage done to our freedom has been at the hands of federal judges, states are left with little to do, except send clear messages to the federal government that it is improperly applying the First Amendment.
That's where Senator Stanley's amendment comes in. Based on an amendment passed overwhelmingly just last year in Missouri, SJ 287 plainly restates that people of faith — all faiths! — have the right to express their faith in the public square, whether that be at a government meeting or a high school graduation.
Many Virginians are tired of the government's assault on our faith. The Founders never intended for faith to be a "private matter," as evidenced by not only the First Amendment but by their words and actions. It is time that Virginians send a clear and unambiguous message to the federal government that we have had enough.
General Assembly Issue Two: Eliminate ObamaCare Induced Abortion Funding In VirginiaJan. 05, 2011
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.
Can The States Stop Nationalized Health Care? Bob Marshall Says, "Yes"Jan. 04, 2010
As mentioned here (and according to the AP), 13 attorneys general are preparing to file suit on behalf of their states to block any eventual nationalization of America's health care system — or at least leave their states free to choose whether to participate. Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims is one of the 13. Law suits have been known to work. It is, after all, the states which have the right and obligation to defend themselves from participation in any federal scheme not enumerated in the constitution as a federal responsibility — also known as the 10th Amendment. Of course, the 10th Amendment, nor anything about the constitution, has stopped the federales from increasing its size and scope over our lives throughout recent decades.
But law suits aside, what else can the states do? Apart from the attorney general, who else is in the game? What about legislatures? If Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Prince William) has anything to do with it, Virginia's General Assembly will have a lot to do with it. Last month, he made a presentation to the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition about HB 10, The Health Care Freedom Act, a bill he has already filed. Other patrons thus far are John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico), Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Prince William), Harvey Morgan (R-98, Gloucester) and Bob Tata (R-85, Virginia Beach). HB 10 reads, in its entirety, thus:
No law shall restrict a person's natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans. No law shall interfere with the right of a person or entity to pay for lawful medical services to preserve life or health, nor shall any law impose a penalty, tax, fee, or fine, of any type, to decline or to contract for health care coverage or to participate in any particular health care system or plan, except as required by a court where an individual or entity is a named party in a judicial dispute. Nothing herein shall be construed to expand, limit or otherwise modify any determination of law regarding what constitutes lawful medical services within the Commonwealth.
Marshall, as ever, is sure of its legislative cure as well as its constitutionality, as we are reminded by Norm Leahy at Tertium Quids. In fact, as Leahy points out, Delegate Marshall offers a Q&A on Dr. Bob Hollsworth's Virginia Tomorrow blog, asking and answering questions himself, a FAQ tutorial on state legislative prerogative on federal issues, if you will. At least as far as it concerns the federal takeover of the health care industry and individuals' constitutional rights to be forced into it.
So, the 10th Amendment lives? We'll see what Virginia's General Assembly says — about its own authority. Virginia could make hay as the bulwark against the largest federal power grab in history. That would really give the lawyers something to fight about.