Category Archives: Courts and law

Constitutionality of Vaccination Mandate

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been much opposition expressed on this blog regarding UVa, and, by extension, other higher education institutions, requiring students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID as a requirement for attending class in the fall.  The policy has been said to be, among other things, unconstitutional.

Not surprisingly, a judge has spoken. Today, a federal district judge ruled in favor of Indiana University in a suit brought challenging that university’s vaccination mandate. The court said, “The Fourteenth Amendment permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

Of course, this is only one judge and it is not unusual for judges in different parts of the country to rule differently on similar points of law. Also, a district court’s ruling is generally applicable only in that district, but the case is likely to have some precedential value elsewhere.

The challengers have vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Only the Courts Are Protecting Virginians – Again

by James C. Sherlock

Barton Swain explores a topic in the Wall Street Journal that bears examination in Virginia. He makes a profound observation:

“The sheer illogic of (the Texas election laws) controversy captures something essential about culture-war progressives. They are able to embrace a cause, condemn dissenters and doubters as monsters, and experience no cognitive dissonance despite having themselves held the contrary view a short time ago.”

It is evidence of a rejection by many of their own personal and political histories — of positions they once claimed on moral grounds. They dismiss citizens as beneath contempt for beliefs that until recently they held themselves. 

Sackcloth and ashes are not often in evidence, unless you count black face. Continue reading

Richmond Public Schools Show No Progress on Staff COVID Vaccinations

by James C. Sherlock

Last updated Just 15 at 4:16 PM

I have long taken a personal interest in the City of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). Its students have a right under the Virginia constitution to a quality education that they are systematically denied. RPS has utterly failed to educate the children under its care. The proof is in the Virginia Department of Education’s School Quality Report.

The Board of Education dutifully reports that fact every year to the Governor and the General Assembly — another constitutional requirement. Neither takes effective action.

Now most of RPS school personnel have failed to get vaccinated. School starts next month.

Action is warranted. None appears in the offing. Continue reading

Transgender Medical Care for Children – Do not Parents Have a Role?

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday’s two-part column, I responded to the Virginian-Pilot’s assertion that transgender rights are being conflated by conservatives with critical race theory in schools. 

I agree that they are, and I find it appropriate.  

Child instruction in CRT and transgender affirming psychological and medical interventions for children without parent participation are being advocated by the same people.

Some of our progressive commenters professed shock — shock — that I would characterize VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as child transgender advocacy.  

A motion for immediate relief from Model Policies filed in Lynchburg circuit court offered some of the legal objections. Amicus briefs have been filed on both sides. So fair enough to disagree with me.

I will relate two contrasting viewpoints, one expressed in The Washington Post and the other by the the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The first minimizes the role of parents; the other considers parents as partners.

That is the primary political bone of contention in both the CRT in K-12 public schools and transgender student model policies controversies. The rest is details. To argue otherwise is sophistry.  So pick a side. Continue reading

Virginia Nets $80 Million for Opioid Treatment

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s Opioid Abatement Authority will get an $80 million shot in the arm (so to speak) from the resolution of a lawsuit pursued by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and his peers in 14 other states. The bankruptcy-court settlement with the Sackler family and its company Purdue Pharma requires payment of $4.3 billion nationally for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts across the country.

Additionally, Purdue and the Sacklers are required make public more than 30 million documents, including attorney-client privileged communications about the original FDA approval of OxyContin and tactics to promote opioids.

“No dollar amount will ever bring back the Virginians we have lost to the opioid crisis or repair the families that have to live with the devastating effects of losing a loved one, but this settlement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis,” said Herring in a press release. Continue reading

Wake Up, Everybody!

Josef Mengele, the so-called “angel of death” at Auschwitz, was not a big believer in informed consent for medical experiments. He evaded capture and condemnation by the Nuremburg Doctors’ Trial. More than a dozen other doctors were hanged or given life sentences.

by Walter Smith

The stupor of Covidiocy has infected all levels of society and greatly damaged our social fabric. Out of fear and suppression of common sense and stories contradictory to “the narrative,” Americans are accepting an assault on their liberties, and have been blinded to see it – even pooh-poohing skeptics like me as “anti-science,” “anti-vax,” or “out of bounds” for making comparisons to precedents from the Nuremberg trials. Well, buckle up.

The COVID vaccine mandates are illegal and unconstitutional. That 450 colleges and universities have mandated the vaccination of students shows how little respect our elites – the “experts” who engaged in “gain of function” research, funded it in China when prohibited onshore, and lied about it – have for our liberties.

The Nuremberg Code was established as a result of the Doctors’ Trial after World War II. It set forth the premise for why certain doctors deserved punishment, including execution. I’m sorry if this offends you – while the truth may hurt, it can also set you free. Just read Article 1 on consent for medical experiments. Clear enough? Continue reading

Help Me Out. Let’s FOIA UVa about Trespass Warnings

Bacon passes around the tin cup

by James A. Bacon

Back in April 2018 Jason Kessler, the white nationalist organizer of the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, found himself the target of a series of lawsuits. He was spotted in the University of Virginia Law School library one day, minding his own business and reading up on the law. Someone recognized him, and word quickly spread. Traumatized by his presence, law school students chased him out of the room. The law school followed up by obtaining a Trespass Warning to bar him from setting foot in the library.

Later that same year, med school student Kieran Bhattacharya attended a panel discussion on the topic of microaggressions. In a question-and-answer exchange, he shocked many attendees by challenging the presenter’s premises. There unfolded a series of events, now the subject of litigation, that culminated with the issuance of a Trespass Warning forbidding him from entering the grounds.

As Ian Fleming’s character Auric Goldfinger memorably told James Bond in “The Man with the Golden Gun,” “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.”

I have identified two instances in which enemies of the campus Left — one, the detestable Kessler and the other, Bhattacharya, a skeptic of social-justice pieties — have been banned from the university grounds. Could this be, in Goldfinger’s rendering, a coincidence? Or could it signify something running deeper in the UVa culture? Has the issuance of Trespass Warnings become a new tool — unappreciated by the public — for expelling undesirables and enforcing Leftist orthodoxy?

I do not know the answer, but I want to find out. I have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of all Trespass Warnings issued by the University of Virginia police department since, and including, calendar year 2017. UVa estimates that it will charge me $880 to locate the records and redact them as necessary. Continue reading

The Louise Lucas Recall Attempt

Louise Lucas

by Kerry Dougherty

This may come as a shock, but I don’t like what’s happening to State Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth.

No, this isn’t a coded message to signal that I’m being held somewhere against my will. I honestly believe that attempts to get the courts to remove her from office are misguided.

Make that court.

With the proper number of signatures, citizens in Virginia may ask a circuit court judge to decide if a public official should get the boot.

The threshold number of signatures is relatively small, too. Just 10% of the number of voters in the last election, which in this case comes to 4,651. The Virginian-Pilot reports that the petitioners claim to have thousands more names than needed. Continue reading

Great Moments in Virginia Jurisprudence

Arenda Wright Allen

by Hans Bader

Shouldn’t a judge at least know what’s in the Constitution, before getting a promotion? Left-wing trial judge Arenda Wright Allen confused the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution in her ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, noted ABC News. Yet now she is being recommended for a promotion to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, by Virginia Senators Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that in “a letter Monday the senators recommended U.S. District Court judges Arenda Wright Allen and M. Hannah Lauck and Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens” for elevation to the Fourth Circuit.

In 2014, ABC’s Erin Dooley wrote about how Judge Allen attributed a phrase to the Constitution that it doesn’t contain: Continue reading

Parole Scandal Judge on “Extended Leave”

Adrianne Bennett. Photo credit: Richmond times-Dispatch

by Kerry Dougherty

Well, this is odd.

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Beach judge who was a key player in the Virginia Parole Board scandal, is missing.

So to speak, anyway.

There is no Amber Alert. And no indication that Adrianne Bennett is ill. Instead, according to a front-page story in Thursday’s Times-Dispatch, she’s been on “extended leave” since mid-April.

Emails obtained through FOIA requests by the T-D between the Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court’s clerk and other individuals reveal that Bennett has been deleted from the judges’ email chain and court employees have been instructed not to contact her with questions.

Cases Bennett was involved in are reportedly being handled by substitute judges.

Times-Dispatch reporter Patrick Wilson — formerly of The Virginian-Pilot — wrote that inquiries into Bennett’s sudden absence were met with “no comments” from court personnel.

Bennett, you will recall, was a Terry McAuliffe appointee to the parole board and was chair of that body until last April. Continue reading

Descano’s Unconstitutional Actions

Steve Descano. Photo credit: WTOP

by Emilio Jaksetic

Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve T. Descano has invoked his prosecutorial discretion to issue several “criminal justice reforms.” (Copies are available here.) As part of these reforms, Descano refuses:

(1) to prosecute any person for simple possession of marijuana;

(2) to prosecute any person for felony larceny for any amount less than $1,500 even though the statutory threshold is $1,000;

(3) to pursue any probation violation based on a conviction for possession of marijuana; and

(4) to request cash bail under any circumstance (even if defense counsel requests cash bail).

By implementing the cited policies, Descano has violated the Virginia Constitution. To reach this conclusion, it is necessary to consider: (1) the limits of prosecutorial discretion; (2) specific provisions of the Virginia Constitution that constrain all Virginia officials, including Commonwealth Attorneys; and (3) how Descano’s implementation of certain policies runs afoul of the Virginia Constitution. Continue reading

Vertically Integrated Health Providers/Insurers – Weak State Oversight But New Federal Authority

by James C. Sherlock

In the contest between Virginia’s disorganized attempts to oversee vertically integrated health care and health insurance businesses, Sentara being the most prominent example, and Virginia’s regional monopolies’ defenses against effective regulation and legislation, the monopolies have won.  

This piece discusses Virginia’s failed legislative and regulatory oversight structures. I will recommend structural changes to both to deal with the issues that fall between the cracks.

There is, however, very recent good news.

A new federal antitrust law gives federal courts full authority over integrated healthcare/health insurance business structures operated in restraint of trade. I will briefly describe the potential effects of that change. Continue reading

Change Coming to Virginia Beach Politics

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

A recent federal court decision could fundamentally change the  politics of Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth’s largest city.

Some background is needed first. Virginia Beach has an unusual method of electing its council. All 11 members of the council are elected by all the voters in the city. However, seven of the council members must live in the district they represent, while three members and the mayor are truly at-large, meaning they can live anywhere in the city. For example, Mary Doe may run for council as the member from District 7, which includes Sandbridge where she lives, but she must get a majority of the citywide votes for the seat.

The electoral arrangement has been in place since 1966  It has its origins in the conditions established for the consolidation of the small city of Virginia Beach and the large county of Princess Anne in 1963. Continue reading

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center Sues Sentara – Again

by James C. Sherlock

A tip of the hat to my friends at Checks and Balances Project for alerting us to a new civil suit filed April 27 against Sentara by Chesapeake Regional Medical Center (CRMC).

I will comment on Sentara’s response to the suit when it is available.

The complaint alleges various instances of tortious interference by Sentara with CRMC’s business and conspiracy to do the same. I recommend you read the complaint as filed. It is quite a story.

Although I am familiar with only part of the evidence in this specific case, that being Sentara’s successful intervention against CRMC’s COPN application for open heart surgery, the other allegations match decades of Sentara business practices.

Continue reading

More Nonsense from AG Candidates

Candidates for Republican AG Nomination Image credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

A recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch has compelled me to once again mount my soapbox about one of my favorite peeves — the misleading claims, and understanding, of the role of the Virginia Attorney General.

I will say upfront that I realize that mine is a lost cause and, furthermore, what I am reacting to is political rhetoric. Nevertheless, like Steve Haner on another subject, I need to get it off my chest.

The article profiled the four candidates for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. In their remarks, there were several themes in common:

  • Opening schools and businesses
  • Professionalism of the Office of Attorney General
  • Use of force by police
  • Qualified immunity for law enforcement

Continue reading