Category Archives: Civil Rights

Virginia Model Policies on Protecting Students Show Differences in Constitutional Focus and Interpretation

by James C. Sherlock

There is lots of interest, and not a little headline hyperbole, concerning the change in Virginia’s model policies designed to assure all children appropriate treatment at school.

Two different world views are apparent in the titles:

  • the Northam administration’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools (Northam Model Policies) and
  • the Youngkin Administration’s Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools (Youngkin Model Policies).

Both attorneys and general audiences will find interesting the way the authors of each document interpreted the United States Constitution.

Each referred to the first and 14th amendments. And Virginia laws. The differences in emphasis and interpretation were chosen to support their cases.

That is not surprising, but I think those differences make or break the case for the two policies.

I will let readers decide. Continue reading

Systemic Racism Lives

Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott in front of their Baltimore home Photo credit: New York Times

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

For those folks on this blog who keep denying that systemic racism either ever existed or is still a factor in today’s society, I offer an incident reported in today’s New York Times as evidence that systemic racism is still alive and operating to discriminate against Blacks.

Last summer, a Black couple in Baltimore, Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott, decided to take advantage of low mortgage rates and refinance their home. They found a lender willing to lend them the money. However, the appraisal for the house came in at $472,000, only $22,000 more than what they had paid for the house five years ago. Keep in mind that home values had been escalating significantly over the past few years.

Dr. Connolly, who is a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, and whose special area of research has been the role of race in the housing market, thought he knew why the appraisal came in much lower that they had anticipated. Continue reading

Progressives in Virginia In Position to Overrule Parental Objections to Invasive Child Gender Dysphoria Treatment

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginian-Pilot, in an editorial, bemoaned Governor Youngkin’s endorsement of a policy that would require schools to tell parents about their kids’ transexual identity expressions at school.

It’s as though the potential consequences of such a policy have never crossed his mind.

The sure consequences of opposing that policy were not discussed.

The Pilot brain trust did not address, and perhaps did not care, that a child in Virginia must have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria as a predicate for mental health treatment. And, of course, for physically invasive treatments.

Most Virginians think parental/guardian consent is required for all of that. It certainly should be. But it won’t be if progressives find the right judge.

Medical ethics should help protect kids, but will not. Progressive medical providers think themselves to be doing the best thing for the child, even with the dangerous, irreversible and ghastly treatments to which some providers subject children diagnosed as gender dysphoric.

Neither will judicial ethics. Read the papers every day for things that progressives think best for all of us. Progressive judges will think themselves to be doing the right thing as well.

Virginia is thick with progressive doctors and judges. It is thicker with parents.

The progressives need to be stopped by changes in Virginia law. This is a very complicated subject.  So the background discussion will be extensive.

Continue reading

Lee, Jackson, the Right of Rebellion, and Hanging Cromwell’s Corpse

The thirst for vengeance has no expiration date: hanging Oliver Cromwell’s corpse.

by Jock Yellott

As an August vacation from current events, let’s explore Virginia’s Right of Rebellion — and the question of Confederate treason.

It’s in our state constitution Bill of Rights: “Whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to [the benefit, protection, and security of the people] a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. Virginia Constitution Art. I §3 (June 12, 1776).

Virginia’s Constitution was no anomaly.

When the American colonies seceded from England in 1776, and afterwards for the next three quarters of a century until 1860, most state constitutions in their Bill of Rights or Preamble reserved to the citizens the right to abolish their own governments. A representative sample: the original colonies Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and later (when added to the union) the states of Texas and Maine. Continue reading

Windsor Traffic Cops Broke No State Laws

Joe Gutierrez

by James A. Bacon

Town of Windsor police officers won’t face state criminal charges for pepper-spraying a Black Army lieutenant during a traffic stop, but they aren’t off the hook yet. Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell, named as special prosecutor in the Isle of Wight case, has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to open a civil rights investigation.

Joe Gutierrez (no longer on the force) and Daniel Crocker pulled over 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario on U.S. Route 460 at night on suspicion of driving without a license plate. Nazario had a temporary New York plate in the rear window but the officers said they didn’t see it. Nazario drove a mile before finally pulling over in a BP gas station. When ordered repeatedly to get out of the car, Nazario refused. Gutierrez pepper-sprayed Nazario and then forced him to the ground. Much of the encounter was caught on police cameras.

Bell, an African-American, conducted what he described as an “exhaustive review” of Virginia state law, according to The Smithfield Times. “The traffic stop alone was not a violation of law,” he wrote. Gutierrez’s use of force “did not violate state law as he had given multiple commands for Nazario to exit the vehicle.” Continue reading

Impact of Supremes’ Roe v. Wade Ruling Way Overstated

Photo credit: Netblogpro

by Ken Reid

Should Governor Glenn Youngkin succeed in getting the Virginia General Assembly to curb abortion in Virginia from 25 weeks of pregnancy (at present) to 15, some 97% of abortions will still be protected, according to 2019 stats from the  Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, in six of the eight states which had pre-Roe v. Wade abortion bans, which have now become law again, an overwhelming majority of abortions will continue because abortion drugs (like Mifeprex – generic, mifepristone) –- cannot be outlawed. The only state with a trigger law where only 39% of abortions would continue is Missouri, based on data from the CDC.

In two states, Ohio and Texas, which have enacted restrictions after six weeks of pregnancy, CDC data indicates abortion through Mifeprex could conceivably cover 62% and 80% of abortions in those states, respectively.

About 54% of all abortions in 2019 were by abortion drugs, not surgery. Not all 1st trimester abortions can be done via drug, but the numbers are increasing and I will explain shortly why the states can do little about it.

I covered the drug and device industry for the trade press for 35 years, so I have some expertise here. Since the Supreme Court overturn of Roe was leaked in early May, I have written several articles, including a letter in The Washington Post,  about how this decision is really a wash for both sides – but these facts have not entered the news cycle or TV punditry. You can read one of these articles here.

Here are my arguments: Continue reading

Is Virginia’s Lab School Law Constitutional?

by James C. Sherlock

The Governor and General Assembly may wish to look at Virginia’s new laboratory schools law in light of the Supreme Court’s June 21, 2022 Carson v. Makin (Carson) decision

Held: Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause.

The facts of Carson, in which Maine spent state money to fund students to attend private schools but not religious ones, seem to align generally with the facts of the establishment of laboratory schools under Virginia law.

Code of Virginia § 22.1-349.1. Definitions; objectives.

“College partnership laboratory school” means a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious school in the Commonwealth established by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education that operates a teacher education program approved by the Board. (Emphasis added)

That definition may be found to make the same constitutional error that the Supreme Court found in the Maine law on tuition assistance.  Continue reading

The “Occasional” Butchery of Children

By James C. Sherlock

Chloe Cole after childhood surgical transition to a boy (left) and de-transition to a girl (right) – Courtesy of Chloe Cole and the New York Post

The New York Post wrote recently:

At 12 years old, Chloe Cole decided she was transgender. At 13, she was put on puberty blockers and prescribed testosterone. At 15, she underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year later, she realized she’d made a mistake.

Note the gracious acceptance of agency by this young woman, even though she made a “decision” at 12 that she was transgender.  Some clearly think that a child of twelve is mature enough to make such a decision.

We see no such agency proclaimed by her parents, pediatrician, endocrinologist or psychologist.  I am sure they were “supporting” that child.

No agency is apparently accepted by the state in which she lived.  The state in which her doctors were licensed.

Let’s examine the agency of the adult players in such matters in Virginia.

Continue reading

“Toxic” Parents in Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg City Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) have a tough row to hoe.

April Howard, HCPS chief officer for student support, noted in a presentation to the school board on October 19 of 2021:

Fall 2021 Student Trends
➔ Observations of increased anxiety
➔ Increased school refusal
➔ Increased reports of suicidal ideation—utilization of SPG protocol
➔ Increased needs for emotional regulation support
➔ Increased behavioral issues in pre K-12
➔ Concerns related to loss of social skills due to pandemic-related isolation

That is a common list of the monumental issues brought about by the COVID closures.

So, HCPS somehow thought it a good time to pick a fight over protecting “transgender and gender questioning” kids from their teachers and parents.

They got one. Continue reading

A Gun Owner’s Suggestion for Virginia Gun Laws

By James C. Sherlock

I was a career military man.

I am a conservative and a gun owner. As a younger man, I won competitive awards for marksmanship with both rifle and pistol.

I own a semi-automatic Glock for home protection.  I train regularly and at almost 77 can still hit what I aim at.

With that introduction, I have a couple of suggestions for gun legislation in Virginia that I hope will draw condemnation from both the left and the right so that I know I have it roughly right.

I have four criteria for firearms legislation:

  • changes that can matter to the safety of children and law enforcement officers;
  • changes that can deter criminals from use of a firearm in the commission of a crime;
  • changes that do not disadvantage the average citizen’s possession and use of firearms; and
  • changes that can pass Second Amendment review in federal court.

Those are, as a group, difficult needles to thread simultaneously.  They should be.

This article involves semi-automatic long guns – rifles and shotguns.

Continue reading

Progressive Dogma Untethered to Results – Voter Laws Edition

by James C. Sherlock

The armies of the progressive left are what the great political scientist George Edwards called “Prisoners of Their Premises.” Many persons and institutions are captives, to a greater or lesser degree.

Lesser is better in this case. Mistakes flow from the best of intentions. You can learn from them or repeat them.

The United States military late in the Vietnam war mandated and then made a science out of analyzing its mistakes in order to learn from them.

At the unit level, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines debrief after every training and combat mission. At higher levels the reviews are periodic, but also professionally honest. Combat training schools capture, but do not enshrine those lessons. Because there is always a next time, newer equipment, newer force compositions, newer enemies and newer lessons.

It is the only way to improve systematically.

Many progressives, in solitary confinement with their dogma, are often wrong but always certain. When their policy prescriptions fail to provide the predicted results, which is most of the time, outcomes are ignored or blamed on outside factors beyond their control. Core beliefs, unchallenged, are undisturbed.

Consider for illustration recent voting law changes. Continue reading

Silence of the Trumpets

by Jim McCarthy

Criminal justice at the local level in Virginia is the province of the 120 Commonwealth’s attorney offices funded primarily by the state, with some also receiving local supplement. Indigent defendants may avail themselves of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel through 28 public defender offices. Many other indigent defendants will be represented by court appointed counsel from lists and attorneys overseen by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (VIDC) which is the statutory organization for public defenders.

The genesis of the existence of public defenders arose in 1963, ten years before Roe v Wade, with the SCOTUS opinion in Gideon v Wainwright. The defendant, Clarence Earl Gideon, was sentenced to five years in prison after trial at which he requested the appointment of counsel to defend him. At the time, states were mandated to consider appointed counsel only in capital offense proceedings, not for lesser offences which might involve imprisonment. The unanimous court in Gideon concluded that the Sixth Amendment did not distinguish between capital and non-capital cases, finding that a defendant faces the danger of criminal conviction “because he does not know how to establish his innocence.”

This hallmark decision and its progeny later gave rise to the familiar Miranda warning (Miranda v Arizona, 1966), a required notification by police in a custodial setting: Continue reading

Charter School Lessons for the Youngkin Administration from the New York Times

by James C. Sherlock

Probably surprising to many of my readers, one of the newspapers to which I subscribe is The New York Times. Another is The Washington Post.

Of the two, the Times demonstrates far more balance in its reporting. Not opinion – reporting.

Times education writers, direct witnesses to the astonishing achievements of New York City charter schools and their huge waiting lists, can be counted on to investigate and report stories that openly disregard progressive orthodoxy on such schools.

They reported on May 13 (adjacent picture) that opposition to charter schools disadvantages primarily poor minority children and is driving the support of poor and minority parents away from the Democratic party.

That is the message I have been trying to bring to the Youngkin administration. Continue reading

School Daze

by Jim McCarthy

Governor Glenn Youngkin had an opportunity to withdraw his big-footed amendment to a bill that would have moved the election date of the Loudoun County School Board from 2022 to 2023 and vacate the nine board seats for a new election. The original bill sought only to stagger the terms of five of the seats. Now, rejected by vote of Democrats in the senate, the Governor has the choice of vetoing the original bill or signing it.

Whichever choice is made, it is not likely to diminish the feral fever that has enveloped school board meetings nor will it appease the bloodlust outrage stoked during the campaign.

Passage of the proposed amendment rested, in part, upon the Dillon Rule, a judicial doctrine from the 1800s which provides that a local jurisdiction may exercise only what authority is conferred by the parent state. This principle, in turn, is mirrored by another dominant value that has guided educational policy for centuries called in loco parentis (ILP) or in place of the parent. Historically, as population grew and shifted from agrarian settings to urban and suburban ones with enhanced employment opportunities, the education of youth was entrusted to a public school system with professional personnel. Continue reading

The Richmond Times Dispatch, “Hate Groups” and Journalism

by James C. Sherlock

The Hanover County School Board (HCSB) is seeking legal assistance in reviewing its transgender policy from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative legal organization that provides its services pro bono.

ADF’s key values that it goes to court to defend are religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.  It has  won 80% of its court cases and played a role in 64 victories at the United States Supreme Court.

The HCSB, the target of an ACLU lawsuit, wants to know if their transgender policy is defensible in court.  ADF offered to review the policy and advise on modifications if any and a defensive strategy for free.

Seems reasonable.

But not to the Richmond Times Dispatch (RTD). Continue reading