Category Archives: Courts and law

Part III – Questions raised by Attorney General Herring’s Loudoun County Schools Determination

by James C. Sherlock

Still smiling?

The citizens of Loudoun and LCPS need to understand all the implications of the Attorney General’s determination.

This essay will offer questions that I sincerely recommend that LCPS pose to the Attorney General in order to get enough information to decide what to do. The AG’s office was given 60 days after the November 18 date on the determination to comply, so it should act immediately to get answers.

Immediately above Mr. Herring’s signature on the cover letter is the following statement:

Having found reasonable cause to believe that LCPS’s policies and practices resulted in a discriminatory impact on Black/African-American and Latin/Hispanic students, the Division of Human Rights request that the Charging Party (NAACP Loudoun) and Respondent (LCPS) engage in a post-determination conciliation process in an effort to resolve this matter. The final determination includes reforms and commitments that the Division believes are necessary to address the discriminatory disparate impact identified and help ensure equal opportunity for each student, as well as terms requested by the Charging Party in order to resolve this matter. (bold added)

Part II of this series listed those terms.

In the finding, there were two types of reforms required by the government. One type was things that need to be accomplished to ensure a statistically representative student body at Loudoun Academies. The other had to do with hiring, retention and promotion of minority employees, anti-discrimination policies, student discipline, and complaint systems.

I offer a series of questions that LCPS may wish to pose to the Attorney General to clarify the determination.

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Herring’s Loudoun County Determination Part II – State-Sponsored Extortion

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

Part one of two essays on this subject described a new Virginia law, a new Division in the Attorney Generals office, its function as a kangaroo court and its astonishing and sweeping  “determination” against Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). The law requires LCPS to block Asian American kids from the competitively accessed Loudoun Academies in favor of protected classes.

That is not even the heart of the scandal.

That same determination published the NAACP’s demands to settle the case. I will quote the NAACP demands directly here because a summary cannot do it justice. Remember, these “requests” were published by the Attorney General. Also remember that if the NAACP is unhappy, it can go to court with the AG’s determination in hand.

Please note the demand for a high quality charter school for black students that can eliminate the achievement gap. Perhaps Success Academy can help.

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Belly Flops Make a Splash – Virginia Attacks on School Quality Gain National Attention

by James C. Sherlock

Why is this man smiling?

The Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed today, the first four words of which were “Attorney General Mark Herring.” No picture of the AG, so I offer one here, but they spelled his name right. so perhaps it will be Senator Herring or President Herring one day soon.

Unfortunately, the next words after his title and name were: 

“has fired the latest salvo in America’s assault on meritocracy: a 61-page opinion holding that the suburban Loudoun County school system discriminated against black and Hispanic youngsters because its selective-admission high school, the Academies of Loudon, hadn’t admitted enough of them. Never mind that—as Mr. Herring acknowledged—the school’s test-based admissions process is open to all and fairly managed. Because its results have a “disparate impact,” the school system must scrap it.”

The piece went on to describe for a national audience what Bacons Rebellion has been pointing out to Virginia readers. Selective admission schools are under attack for, well, being selective. Using tests to determine admissions does not result in student bodies that match the general demographics. It’s what the woke left calls the “Asian problem.” Asian students study too hard and have supportive parents. Continue reading

A Clear Victory for Civil Liberties

by James C. Sherlock

In a speech to the Federalist Society earlier this month, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the pandemic

“has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty. This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty. It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”

Last night, the Supreme Court court ruled 5-4 to bar New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from enforcing his “Cluster Initiative” against houses of worship. This ruling was on a suit brought by two of those, a Catholic Church and a synagogue.

Bloomberg News reported that the order was aimed at worship services at some synagogues and Roman Catholic churches in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

In designated red zones, the state limited attendance in houses of worship to 25% of their capacity or 10 people, whichever is fewer. The majority said his limits violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, in the concurring opinion, said Cuomo had treated religious activities less favorably than nonreligious ones.

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Mark Herring’s Worst Thanksgiving –  Conspiracy Against EVMS may lead to Federal Involvement

by James C. Sherlock

Sentara CEO Howard Kern

Scandals are sometimes overrated. Not this one.

I have reported here before on the strange case of the EVMS-ODU merger. I posted here on Nov 1, Nov 2  and Nov 3 with my own concerns on the subject. Many of my assessments came to fruition.

On November 13 and 20, the Checks and Balances Project picked up the story and took it to the next level. The quotations below are from the November 20 story.

I am not an attorney, but I will project today the significant legal jeopardy into which the process may have put the group that got together to coordinate and plan that merger without EVMS participation. 

Not to mention the legal and personnel mess that it puts on the desk of Virginia’s Attorney General and the Governor. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Must Limit Virginia’s Gubernatorial Authority in Emergencies

by James C. Sherlock

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Kerry Daugherty, as is her want, posted a particularly compelling essay today. The most important thing Kerry wrote was: “Please let there be another lawsuit. And let it get to the Supreme Court…. Seems only the courts can save us from these tyrants.”

She is absolutely right.

Article IV of the United States Constitution

SECTION 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government

From contemporaneous notes from James Madison:

“Resd. that a Republican government . . . ought to be guaranteed by the United States to each state.” 1 M. Farrand, The Records Of The Federal Convention Of 1787 22 (rev. ed. 1937).

In a letter in April, 1787, to Randolph, who formally presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention, Madison had suggested that “an article ought to be inserted expressly guaranteeing the tranquility of the states against internal as well as external danger. . . . Unless the Union be organized efficiently on republican principles innovations of a much more objectionable form may be obtruded.”

Edmund Jennings Randolph of Virginia, supporting Madison’s version pending then, said that

“a republican government must be the basis of our national union; and no state in it ought to have it in their power to change its government into a monarchy.”

Madison and Randolph were prescient.  Governors love kingly authority. Continue reading

A Big Election Day for Marijuana

by DJ Rippert

Rolling stoned gathers no moss. Marijuana reform has been gaining momentum in the U.S. since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Today 36 states have either enacted medical marijuana access laws or are in the process of implementing such laws. In 2012 Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. Today, 15 states have enacted recreational use laws or are in the process of doing so.

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Fifty Pounds of Weed in Arlington = Probation?

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

by DJ Rippert

This landing may get bumpy. In late 2018 a chap was on a plane that landed at Reagan National Airport. He undoubtedly had the usual tools of travel — toothbrush, shave kit and clean socks.  However, he also had 50 pounds of marijuana and 400 cartridges of hashish oil. Perhaps he got on the wrong plane expecting to land in Denver. The MWAA Police met him at baggage claim, offered to help him with his luggage and cuffed him up.

As arlnow.com reports, “Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and the attorney representing the alleged drug carrier agreed that the defendant would plead guilty to two felony charges and be placed on probation. After completing the probation and 200 hours of community service, he would be able to withdraw the pleas to the felony charges and instead plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges while having a $100 fine imposed but then suspended.” Continue reading

Initial Observations on the Virginia Election Results

by James C. Sherlock

Nobody asked, me, but I offer my Wednesday morning initial assessment of the elections in Virginia. In no particular order, here they are.

Until there is a Republican Party of Virginia, not the current Republican Party of me, the party candidates will remain eclectic to the point of statewide incoherence. Not sure who has the juice to pull that together.

It looks at this point like Abigail Spanberger lost to Nick Freitas by about 3,000 votes with 100% counted. I suspect there will be a recount. The rest of the House races were pretty one-sided. Redistricting by the new commission established by the new constitutional amendment will be crucial.

Northern Virginia is the bedroom of the federal government. It has been a long time since there were a significant number of Republicans in the career bureaucracy. Dispersing the offices of those bureaucrats around the country, generically a good idea, may not help the Republicans in swing states.

One question with a potential huge impact on Virginia legislation: Will the Virginia Supreme court take cases that result in an assertive role for that court in assessing new laws for constitutionality?

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Voters, Consider the Fate of the Bill of Rights

by James C. Sherlock

Before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, I think it a useful exercise to consider the future of the Bill of Rights with a Supreme Court “expanded,” as promised by Democrats if they control the Presidency and the Senate, to provide a leftist majority.

To enable that reflection, it is useful to remember that the current Bill of Rights is composed of 10 amendments offered as constraints on the national government and, by extension of most of them, to state governments.

As a general observation, the left wing of the Democratic party opposes any restraints on federal power.

We will examine the controlling Supreme Court decisions that affect the enforcement of these freedoms and would be put in jeopardy by a court that embraced critical theory.

What follows are the musings of a citizen who is not an attorney, albeit a citizen who can and does read and recounts the common understandings of the Court decisions below.

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Northam’s Non-COVID Non-Update

Note: video starts at 4:50

by DJ Rippert

Northam fiddles. As a resurgence of COVID-19 spreads across Europe and the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam held a press conference ostensibly to discuss the pandemic. The presser provided little new information about the coronavirus or Virginia’s plans to combat the disease. Northam did review statistics from the five health regions around the state but failed to provide any new guidance for Southwest Virginia where cases are spiking and the positivity rate has reached 8%. Northam’s useful advice was to wear masks, maintain social distance and wash your hands regularly. Continue reading

Does Racism Still Reside At VMI?

The Stonewall Jackson statue at VMI.

By Peter Galuszka

On this blog, at least, there has been plenty of grief at the University of Virginia over controversies involving diversity. But over at Lexington, a town not far away, an even bigger battle involving the issue has been engaged.

Black students and alumni at the Virginia Military Institute, the state’s public military college, complain that the institution is involved in systemic racism that hasn’t gone away years after Blacks and women were finally allowed to enter.

Students complain that they are criticized and told to leave the school if they object to having white supremacist figures, such as Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, included in school emblems, hear classroom stories by a faculty member favoring the Ku Ku Klan and face social media insults decrying the color of their skin, according to The Washington Post. Continue reading

The November Election, Marijuana and Northern Virginia

By DJ Rippert

Up for grabs. In about three weeks Americans who haven’t already voted will go to the polls and vote. The presidency, the U,S, House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are all in play.  Regarding the impact of the legalized adult use of marijuana in Virginia, the U.S. Senate is the key. That belief makes the relatively safe assumption that the Democrats will maintain a majority in the House. The reason the Senate is the key to recreational marijuana use in Northern Virginia involves Washington, D.C. Washington has already legalized the recreational use of marijuana.  However, the implementation of a retail capability to buy and sell marijuana has been thwarted by Republicans using federal appropriations bills.  That thwarting will end if the Democrats control both the House and Senate.

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Enjoy Driving at Night Without Headlights? You’re in Luck!

by Kerry Dougherty

Oh my. This really is special.

Virginia’s General Assembly – in the midst of an expensive special session with no end in sight – just passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, will forbid police officers from stopping a car that is being driven at night without headlights, tail lights or brake lights.

This is what happens when Michael Bloomberg bankrolls extreme left-wing candidates in your state and these blockheads will vote for any measure that’s aimed at crippling the police.

You’re not hearing much about this deeply flawed bill because the slobbering lapdogs in the media are overjoyed that it also prevents the cops from stopping cars due solely to the aroma of marijuana. A milestone for the Old Dominion.

But pot is only one part of the bill. Continue reading

UVa Lawn Controversy: Daniel Strikes Again

In the wake of the controversy over profane political statements posted on room doors on the Lawn, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan penned a defense early this month of the university’s decision not to compel removal of the offending signage. In the statement, entitled “Good and Great Revisited,” he argued that the University can be both good, as in exorcising racism, and great, as in achieving excellence; that the Thomas Jefferson statue on the grounds should be preserved but contextualized; and that it is the university’s obligation to stand firm in defense of free speech. In a separate missive, the University’s legal counsel Timothy Heaphy argued that the Constitutional right to free speech of Lawn residents was an absolute that could not be abridged…. although the University was working on changing the rules for next year’s residents.

Now Aubrey M. Daniel III, who had written a previous, widely disseminated letter condemning the University’s do-nothing posture, has delivered a riposte. While UVa officials have issued vague exclamations of “disappointment” at the student’s use of profanity in the phrase “Fuck UVA,” Daniel argues forcefully that Ryan and Heaphy have adopted a legal posture of defending the student’s right to free speech against alumni protests rather than articulating a legal argument for taking down the sign and letting the student (or her surrogates) mount her own legal defense of her action. While posing as a neutral arbiter between the student and angry alumni, Ryan is effectively siding with the student.

Daniel addresses his missive to Rector James B. Murray Jr., who had mounted his own defense of Ryan in a letter from the Board of Visitors. I publish the full text of Daniel’s letter below. — JAB Continue reading