Military Veteran Delegates Defend Denying Judgeship

The following is an op-ed penned by several members of the House of Delegates who are military veterans explaining their opposition to electing Tracy Thorne-Begland as a District Court Judge.

Bad Judgment: Not the Stuff of Would-be Judges

A key function of the General Assembly is to elect judges. Unlike other states, this task falls squarely on the shoulders of the General Assembly and we must select judges of the highest character and ability. If either condition is lacking, we must ask “is this candidate worthy of selection?”

Such was the case on Monday, May 14th, when the House of Delegates chose not to elect Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland as a District Court Judge. Advocates for Mr. Thorne-Begland point to his prosecutorial abilities, however, they ignore that as a naval officer in 1992, he violated clear military directives not to appear on television to advocate for a personal cause. Nevertheless, Mr. Thorne-Begland made that appearance, ignoring the requirements of duty that he voluntarily took an oath to uphold. We contend that Mr. Thorne-Begland exercised profoundly bad judgment in using his military office to advance a personal cause, in this case sexual orientation, on national television; an act he knew was prohibited.

Let’s begin with the oath those of us who served the nation in war and peace took when we were commissioned. “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” A key word here is “duties” and among them are fidelity to rules and regulations of the military and support for the chain of command. When an officer violates this fidelity for a personal cause, no matter how sincerely held, he has broken his trust with the service he has sworn to obey. An officer who does so demonstrates exceptionally bad judgment. Those who don’t think that oaths, discipline, and fidelity to the chain of command matter, fail to comprehend how the military must function if it is to be effective in combat, which is it’s raison d’être. It may be difficult for someone who has not served to understand the depth to which we hold this oath, but it is profound.

An officer shirks his duty when he willingly and knowingly violates a lawful directive of the military and his chain of command by appearing in the media to advocate for a personal cause he believes is more important than the oath he took. The prohibition to “participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause” is unambiguous, yet Mr. Thorne-Begland violated it knowingly. Some say, “Well, what about his First Amendment right to free speech?” Simply put, when you join the military, you give up your right to free speech when it comes to good order and discipline. You can’t say anything you want about any cause, no matter how deeply held, when, in doing so, you speak publicly in contravention to the policies of your service. You can be sure that many of us who have served this nation have had times when we didn’t agree with our chain of command and in some cases may have felt the orders and requirements were misguided. But no matter what side of an issue you take, you do not, as a military member, have the right to speak publicly against your service and chain of command to advance your personal beliefs.

A case in point was the recent discharge of a young Marine sergeant who made disparaging comments about President Barack Obama, his Commander-in-Chief. That sergeant may have felt, as Thorne-Begland did, that he was right in speaking out, but that Marine was wrong to do so and should have been discharged, as he was. And if he ever becomes a lawyer, moves to Virginia, and seeks a judgeship, he shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t support him either. In both cases, the proper course of action would have been to resign from the service, hang up the uniform, put on civilian garb, and speak to your heart’s content.

In the military, we take oaths, duty, good order and discipline very seriously because we know the important role they play in creating an effective fighting force. We think no less of these values when selecting judges. If you exhibit bad judgment and indiscipline, you shouldn’t be a judge. Mr. Thorne-Begland’s decision to go on national television to advocate for a personal cause in violation of his sworn duties to his service indicates poor judgment and a lack of regard for the institution he swore to serve and respect. These aren’t the qualities we seek in a jurist.

Delegate (Colonel) Rich Anderson (R-51 and US Air Force Retired), Delegate (Commander) Mark Cole (R-88 and USNR Retired), Delegate (Lt. Commander) John Cosgrove (R-78 and USNR), Delegate (Colonel) Mark Dudenhefer (R-2 and US Marine Corps Retired), Delegate (Sergeant) Tim Hugo (R-40 and US Army Reserve), Delegate (Colonel) L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31 and US Army Retired), Delegate (Commander) Chris Stolle (R-83 and US Navy, Retired) and Delegate (Captain) Thomas “Tag” Greason (R-31 and Army National Guard) all serve in the Virginia House of Delegates of the General Assembly.

9th Circuit Appeals Court Upholds District Ruling Killing Prop 8

In other news, the sun sets in the west.

Unless the appellants are masochistic enough to try en banc and let everyone in the 9th slap them down, this will head right to the Supremes, who I’m guessing will hear arguments this fall and rule at the end of the next term (summer 2013).

I stand by my earlier prediction: Prop 8 goes down 5-4.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Cuccinelli Requests Supreme Court Expedite Review Of Obamacare

Following the Florida ruling on Obamacare and the Senate vote on its repeal, Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli announced that he will file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that they expedite review of the health care law pursuant to Rule 11 on the basis “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.

This matter should be settled sooner rather than later.  On its current track, this case and the Florida-based one would each head to the U.S. Court of Appeals for their respective judicial circuits before winding up in the Supreme Court most likely during its 2011-2012 term with a decision in June 2012 during the heat of the presidential election.

Cuccinelli’s path makes sense for a host of reasons.  First, we would have finality one way or the other sooner, thus granting states, businesses and individuals the certainty that they now lack.  Second, the expedited review would remove the final decision from the middle of the presidential campaign.

Here’s hoping that the Supremes see it this way and move quickly on this matter.

Sotomayor — A Legend In Her Own Mind?

The New Republic has the “Case Against Sonia Sotomayor” and it makes for some interesting reading.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court. Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.  

The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,” as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. “She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.”

OUCH!

Obama Nominates Judge for S. Ct. Who Doesn’t Understand Role of Courts

We first brought this up 3 weeks ago.  Now The Teleprompted One has gone ahead and nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Standing in her way — YouTube…

Courts are the interpretive branch of government, NOT the policymaking branch — that would be the legislature. Hasn’t this woman ever at least watched School House Rock to understand the basics of our three branches of government?  A lack of respect for the Constitution and the rule of law as exhibited by this video makes her unfit to sit on the nation’s highest court.

The Only Reason McCain Is Giving Conservatives To Vote For Him.

Judges.

John McCain on Friday described the decision by the Supreme Court to allow Guantánamo Bay prisoners to challenge their detention in US courts as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country”.

The Republican presidential candidate said he agreed with the four dissenting justices on the nine-member court that foreign fighters held at the detention camp were not entitled to the rights of US citizens.

He criticised Barack Obama, his Democratic opponent, for supporting the decision and said it highlighted the importance of nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court.

 

Mike Dukakabee – Constitution is a “living, breathing document”

Although Mike Dukakabee’s website states:

I firmly believe that the Constitution must be interpreted according to its original meaning, and flatly reject the notion of a “living Constitution.”

Just today while being interviewed on CNN, Dukakabee said that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.” That’s right. The words straight from his own mouth. Words that could have spouted out of the mouth of Bill or Hillary Clinton, Algore, or Justices Breyer and Ginsberg.

With liberals like Mike Dukakabee running for president, who needs Democrats?

Court Affirms Virginia’s Open Primaries Are Unconstitutional

(H/T Good Sense)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit handed down a ruling today in the case of Miller v. Brown affirming in full the decision by Judge Hudson of the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of Virginia that the Commonwealth’s open primaries law is unconstitutional (at least with regard to instances where an incumbent selects a primary as the means of nomination and the political party committee is forced to use a method by which it is prevented from excluding voters with whom they do not want to associate.)

The appellate decision goes through a list of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on this issue and makes clear that a state must have a compelling interest for it to interfere in a party’s political nomination process and that is a high burden for a state to meet.  However, in Virginia a party can use means other than a primary to select a nominee and those means can be tailored to exclude non-party members.  It is only when a committee is directed by an incumbent to hold a primary and that primary must be open in accordance with state law that the committee’s First Amendment rights of association are violated.

Further, applying strict scrutiny, the court held that the various state interests offered by the Board in support of the open primary law were not compelling. See Miller, 465 F. Supp. 2d at 594-95. The court thus concluded that “[w]hile § 24.2-530 survives facial constitutional challenge, it is constitutionally infirm as applied to the narrow facts of this case.”

We therefore conclude that none of the reasons articulated by the Board constitutes a compelling state interest justifying a severe burden on the Committee’s right of association. Accordingly, we affirm the holding of the district court that § 24.2-530 is unconstitutional as applied to the Committee.

For the reasons discussed above, we affirm the district court rulings that Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-530 is facially constitutional but that the statute is unconstitutional as applied to the Committee.

So, what does it all mean?  Well, from a logical standpoint, since there can now exist a situation where a party that wishes to restrict participation in its nomination process could be forced to use a primary as the method of nomination, one would have to conclude that the only practical means for Virginia to be able to comply with this court ruling would be to institute party registration.  I see no other means by which the Commonwealth could ensure compliance with this ruling.

It is about time!

Manbearpig Sighted At Supreme Court

A victory for Manbearpig at the U.S. Supreme Court today.

In light of this, Virginia Virtucon, which lives a Manbearpig-neutral lifestyle, will soon begin selling Manbearpig Offsets at below market value.  We are now taking advanced orders for Manbearpig Offsets, so please indicate here how many you would like to purchase and we will be sure to provide you with a price quote.


An artist’s rendition of Manbearpig
as described to him by Al Gore.