Category Archives: Individual rights

UVa’s COVID Commissars

Woohoo!

by James A. Bacon

COVID-19 infections may have been trending down in Virginia for almost two months now, but they spiked at the University of Virginia several days ago, and the Ryan administration imposed tough new rules to curtail the spread. Not surprisingly, many students have violated the restrictions. In so doing, they have sparked a backlash that appears to be directed not at rule breakers generally but at offenses associated with fraternity and sorority activity.

Under the new COVID regime, in-person attendance at classes are allowed, but social gatherings are not. Students are allowed to walk to and from classes, work, dining or medical care, but otherwise told to isolate themselves. Inevitably, questions arose in the interpretations of the rules, and the Dean of Students clarified that two students could walk together, but they must wear masks and stay six feet apart.

Needless to say, fraternity and sorority parties are not allowed. Continue reading

Hey, ACLU: Forget the Fence, Go After Curfews and Booze Restrictions

by Kerry Dougherty

Some of us have been waiting 11 months for Virginia’s legal eagles – especially the ACLU – to bombard the courts with a blizzard of challenges to Gov. Ralph Northam’s excessive executive orders that have stomped on the constitutional rights of millions of Virginians.

Instead we mostly got crickets.

For a time, churches were closed.

Where were the lawyers?

In most places public schools are closed, despite laws that require school districts to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities, many of whom can’t learn without face-to-face instruction.

Where are the lawyers? Continue reading

Herring Strikes Blow for Emotional Support Animals

Phoebe, the Bacon family emotional support cat, provides companionship and comfort — in sum, helps us maintain a “happier more full life” — during the COVID-19 shut-in.

by James A. Bacon

Attorney General Mark Herring has issued a press release touting his victory in compelling a Pulaski County townhouse community to accommodate a couple with an emotional support animal.

“Virginians with disabilities have the right to live with an assistance animal, especially if that assistance animal helps them live happier, more full lives — assistance animals are not pets and cannot be subject to fees or breed and weight restrictions like other pets can be,” said Herring. “Assistance animals … are often the best way for individuals with debilitating symptoms caused by various mental or physical impairments to substantial improve their quality of life.”

Here are the particulars of the case, as recounted in the press release. The couple, Michael and Charlene Butler, provided “clinical verification” of the need to bring Charlene’s assistance dog to live with them in the Unique Deerfield Village Townhomes Complex. The property managers imposed weight limits and pet deposit fees on the assistance animal. Continue reading

UVa Committee to Study Free Expression Issues

Leslie Kendrick

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has created two new committees: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, and another to examine naming and memorials on the grounds (as the UVa campus is referred to).

“We are working to give voice to our commitment as an educational institution to the free and open exchange of ideas, and to grapple with the complexities of our University’s history and the names that we honor,” Ryan said in making the ann0uncement. “These committees will help us forge a path forward as we continue to address these issues as a community and as a nation.”

First Amendment expert Leslie Kendrick, vice dean of the School of Law, will chair the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. According to UVAToday, the group will craft a statement that “identifies the role that free expression and free inquiry play in UVA’s academic enterprise and how they shape engagement with the ideas of others.”

UVa officials did not explain what prompted the creation of the committee, but the university has been racked by a number of free speech/free expression controversies recently. Continue reading

Facebook, MailChimp Suspend Virginia Gun Rights Group’s Access

Philip Van Cleave. Credit: Rappahannock News

by James A. Bacon

Are the social media giants moving beyond de-platforming groups and individuals who participated in the mob assault on the U.S. Capitol building to de-platforming conservative groups indiscriminately?

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), says his personal Facebook account was suspended last week. That action followed Mailchip’s suspension of its email service to VCDL. Continue reading

Democrats Propose Expanded Virginia Government Personal Information Collection, Integration and Dissemination

George Orwell

by James C. Sherlock

There are few things the Left desires more than government access to personal data on every citizen and everything he or she does. Virginia continues down that path.

Government Data Collection & Dissemination Practices Act Chapter 38 of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.) reads in part:

B. The General Assembly finds that:

1. An individual’s privacy is directly affected by the extensive collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of personal information;

2. The increasing use of computers and sophisticated information technology has greatly magnified the harm that can occur from these practices;

3. An individual’s opportunities to secure employment, insurance, credit, and his right to due process, and other legal protections are endangered by the misuse of certain of these personal information systems; and

4. In order to preserve the rights guaranteed a citizen in a free society, legislation is necessary to establish procedures to govern information systems containing records on individuals.

Democrats in the General Assembly consider those principles trumped by their desires for control of every aspect of citizens lives from birth until death. Thus they are leading an effort to expand government collection, dissemination and integration of citizens’ personal information.  Continue reading

Northam Proposes Legal Marijuana in Va Within Two Years

by DJ Rippert

Ralph Reefer. On Wednesday the Northam Administration unveiled legislation to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Virginia. The legislation will be introduced by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth. Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and Del. Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth. Northam took up the cause of legalizing marijuana last November citing both racial equity and financial issues. Sale of legal marijuana would start by Jan 1, 2023, under the Northam plan. Continue reading

Critical Lizard Theory Sweeps Nation

By Peter Galuszka

Bacon’s Rebellion has been filled with many thumbsuckers about how “Critical Race Theory” is an existential threat to Western Civilization.

But now there is a new theory of concern that makes the racial considerations seem, well, so 2020.

It is called “Critical Lizard Theory” and it actually exists.

According to NBC News, investigators are probing possible links between Nashville suicide bomber Anthony Quinn Warner and the conspiracy idea that many prominent people in the world such as Queen Elizabeth, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Madonna, Paul McCartney and even Bob Hope are or were lizard-like aliens who arrived on Earth and assumed human characteristics.

There seems to be evidence that Warner made trips to an undisclosed spot in Tennessee to check into aliens, NBC reports. Warner is believed to have constructed a bomb at his suburban Nashville home and placed it in a recreational vehicle before setting it off in the city’s downtown. Continue reading

Where Has the ACLU Been?

by Kerry Dougherty

Gosh, I’m getting old. I’m old enough to remember when the ACLU — the American Civil Liberties Union — cared about constitutional rights. You know, the civil liberties of ordinary decent people.

No more.

As best I can tell, this far-left organization has been largely indifferent over the past 10 months as government officials, using COVID-19 as an excuse, merrily stomped all over our civil liberties.

In some places — Virginia, for instance — law-abiding, healthy Americans are told they can’t leave their homes during certain hours. The government dictates how many people can gather in private homes. Children are not permitted to attend public school, including kids with disabilities who are entitled by law to an education tailored to meet their needs.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in, many Americans were told they couldn’t attend worship services. On top of that, dozens of autocratic governors are extending emergency orders for months on end without legislative oversight.

Does the ACLU care? Continue reading

Religious-Freedom Challenges to Northam’s Executive Orders

Slate Mills Baptist Church, one of the three churches suing Governor Northam. Credit: John Bowman, Flickr

by Emilio Jaksetic

Three churches in Virginia are suing Governor Northam over restrictions in his latest pandemic-related executive order, claiming their rights to religious freedom are being infringed. (See The Virginia Star article here.) The cases raise questions about Northam’s authority to limit, restrict or otherwise regulate religious activities in response to the pandemic.

In Executive Order 72 (December 10, 2020), Northam claims authority under

  1. Virginia Constitution, Article V;
  2. Virginia Code, Sections 32.1-13; 32.1-20; 35.1-10; 44.146.17; and
  3. any other applicable law.

A governor has authority by virtue of Article V of the Virginia Constitution, which details his primary responsibility to execute enacted laws. An executive order is not an originating source of authority, merely an instrument to execute or carry out authority that has been granted by the Virginia Constitution or enacted statutes. A governor cannot create new power and authority by merely issuing an executive order. Furthermore, a governor’s claims of authority in an executive order are not self-authenticating and can be legally challenged. Continue reading

Martial Law Is NOT the Answer!

by James A. Bacon

In a Tuesday Facebook post Sen. Amanda F. Chase, R-Chesterfield, a candidate for governor, called upon President Trump declare martial law and seize voting machines to find the voting fraud that resulted in Joe Biden’s election. “There needs to be a national audit,” she said.

President-elect Biden, elaborated Chase, is “not my President and never will be. The American people aren’t fools. We know you cheated to win and we’ll never accept the results. Fair elections we can accept but cheating to win, never. It’s not over yet. So thankful President Trump has a backbone and refuses to concede. President Trump should declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn.”

This is scary stuff. Chase’s comment has been appropriately rebuked by many fellow Republicans, including her opponent in the gubernatorial contest Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights. Chase’s comment comes treacherously close calling for a suspension of suspending democracy, overthrowing the rule of law, and declaring a dictatorship. It’s dangerous as hell and, as far as I’m concerned, disqualifies her as a serious candidate for public office.

But there is a larger point to make. Chase’s comment demonstrates the extent to which a large swath of the Trump-voting electorate has become thoroughly distrustful of political institutions, the media, and the opinions of America’s cultural elites. The same day that Chase’s comment was reported by the Washington Post, these stories were reported in local newspapers in Virginia: Continue reading

Richmond’s Infamous Icon

Credit: National Geographic

By Peter Galuszka

Since 1890, the Robert E. Lee Monument has dominated Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue and has stood as a striking protector of the state’s long history of systemic racism.

True, other Confederate heroes such as Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart also found a memorial spot on the Avenue but Lee has always been the main one. He has been a sentimental touchstone for romantics of the Lost Cause and of derision about people hurt by the system.

Now, Richmond and Virginia are paying a price for more than a century of refusing to own up to what it all really meant.

The famed National Geographic magazine has made a cover photo of the defaced Lee statue repurposed as a memorial to George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by police after he was arrested and handcuffed.

The Geographic was listing the top photos of 2020, a wild and depressing year that brought the coronavirus pandemic, riots in cities and the constant chaos of Donald Trump.

That’s not all. In October, The New York Times Magazine proclaimed that the defaced Lee monument was the most influential work of art since World War II. Continue reading

The Strange Case of the Pandemic Patriots

by Peter Galuszka

In rural Southwest Virginia, the coronavirus pandemic has gotten so bad that Ballad Health, a major health care provider there, is suspending elective surgery for a month.

System-wide, Ballad, which also operates in adjacent states, had 45 available beds as of Wednesday, only 13 or 14 of them ICU beds, according to the Virginia Mercury.

In Southwest Virginia, the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients has soared from an average of 76 a day in late April to 361 as of Wednesday, the Mercury reports.

Meanwhile, in other rural parts of the state, such as Campbell County and Appomattox County, public officials are protesting the “tyranny” of Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID 19 restrictions, such as closing bars at 10 p.m. and not allowing people to congregate in groups larger than 25.

“Free people have a duty to push back against these restrictions,” said County Supervisor Charlie A. Watts II, according to The Washington Post.

Is this the same state? How strange since the pandemic is pushing to new heights as more people contract the disease and die. Public Enemy No. 1 is, of course, Northam, a Democrat that conservatives like to pummel. Ironically, compared to other governors, Northam has actually been fairly moderate. This week he announced he is not ordering more restrictions although he urges caution. Continue reading

Walter Williams RIP

Virginia conservatives lost one of their intellectual heroes earlier today when Walter Williams passed away at the age of 83.

A professor of economics at George Mason University, Williams was a prolific author of articles, columns, book reviews and scholarly papers. Adopting a low-key, common-sense tone, he relentlessly applied economic logic in defense of free-market principles, against government intrusion into the economy, and against the delusions of do-gooders. Along with Thomas Sowell, another African-American pioneer of contemporary conservatism, Williams paved the way for younger African Americans to embrace conservative and free-market ideas.

Williams showed how government interventions in the economy often have unintended and undesirable consequences. More controversially, he showed how discrimination on the basis of race imposed an economic cost not only on the victims but the discriminators, and he illuminated how segregation in the Jim Crow era was the product of state- and local-government laws, ordinances and regulations. Without government coercion to back them, the rules could not have been enforced. But Williams’ work transcended race. A defender of the U.S. Constitution and individual liberties for all people, he was an inspiration to millions of Americans.

— JAB

Stewart Gets Last-Minute Gift From Trump

Corey Stewart

Peter Galuszka

Corey A. Stewart, a conservative firebrand from Prince William County, is getting a last-minute going-away present from President Donald Trump.

As Trump’s administration comes to an end, Trump has created a position on trade at the U.S. Commerce Department that is just for him. In 2016, Stewart headed Trump’s Virginia election campaign before being fired. Stewart said that he was Trump before Trump was Trump.

Stewart is an international trade lawyer and is expected to strong arm Trump’s tough and confusing trade policies.

A special target is China, which Trump has castigated, with some justification, for cheating on business deals, fiddling with its currency exchange rates, growing its armed forces and trampling on human rights.

Stewart will toughen enforcement of Trump’s hostile trade relations, according to news reports.

Some trade experts wonder what the Stewart story is all about. According to Reuters, William Reinsch, a former Commerce undersecretary, said he viewed hiring as “peculiar” since he is filling a position that does not exist. Continue reading