Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth
Editor’s note: Paul Goldman, a Richmond attorney and former chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, asked us to publish the letter below, which he sent last week to state Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, a fellow Democrat who serves as president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate. As of today, Sen. Lucas has not responded.
TO: State Senator Louise Lucas
RE: Why Richmond citizens, long concerned about the decrepit, shameful condition of the school facilities serving the city’s overwhelming black and brown public-school students, deserve to be allowed to have a Second Casino Referendum in 2023 as promised them by last year’s budget deal.
I write today not merely because you are the Pro Tempore of the State Senate. Not merely because you are the key to any new Senate action on the Casino issue. But I write today because you and I have long fought hard, against great odds, to remedy the many injustices suffered by the poor children of Virginia from the legacy of segregation. Especially the Black and Brown kids in cities like Portsmouth and Richmond. Continue reading
by Paul Goldman
Race has too long defined Virginia politics. Several efforts to change this dynamic are discussed in my book Remaking Virginia Politics. My gut senses 2023 may feature another noteworthy moment on the road to Dr. King’s dream. The fight between Petersburg and Richmond over a casino license is currently not seen in this light. Neither by the General Assembly. Nor the Virginia media. Let me humbly discuss an alternative view. Based on my experience helping to move Virginia forward.
In Virginia’s political lexicon, Governor Glenn Youngkin is a conservative white Republican. While winning the governorship, he got barely 13% of the vote in Petersburg. His worst showing in any city. Hardly surprising given the city’s roughly 75% black electorate, 85% Democratic in partisan terms. The city has long been economically challenged, with a high poverty rate. Yet Governor Youngkin has made reviving Petersburg a top priority. Conventional political wisdom, to paraphrase singer Johnny Lee, says he is looking for love in all the wrong places. I disagree. Continue reading
by Paul Goldman
I write today to put the abortion debate in its proper Virginia political, social, and legal contexts.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution banned not only slavery but also “involuntary servitude.” “While the general spirit of the phrase ‘involuntary servitude’ is easily comprehended, the exact range of conditions it prohibits is harder to define,” declared the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Kozminski. The decision in United States v. Shackney said the ban on involuntary servitude “was to abolish all practices … having some of the incidents of slavery.” One of those practices, I will argue in this column, was depriving enslaved women the right to end unwanted pregnancies.
Given sympathetic comments by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority to antiabortion efforts in recent litigation, the nation’s top constitutional scholars say the Court intends to use the Mississippi case argued earlier this year to give state legislature’s wide new latitude to restrict “the right to choose” established by Roe v Wade nearly fifty years ago. The intentions of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and his allies, including Democratic Senator Joe Morrissey, remain to be seen. But it is difficult to imagine that the publicly proclaimed foes of abortion will miss this opportunity.
I believe that Governor Ralph Northam and the White Boys Club now running the General Assembly have a moral obligation to call a Special Session to stop such an effort. Continue reading
by Paul Goldman
Virginia is on track to hold an unconstitutional, illegal election this November 2. The Governor knows it. The Lieutenant Governor knows it. The Attorney General knows it; indeed, he is in court fighting my effort as the lawyer for the defendants in Goldman v Northam, et al, which is a federal action against the Governor and the Virginia Board of Elections. (The case is number 3:21 – cv – 00420 and all the documents can be found in the federal court PACER system, free to all Virginians).
The upcoming November elections for the House of Delegates are flat-out unconstitutional. The constitutionality was decided in a previous federal case in Virginia (Cosner v. Dalton, et al, 52 F. Supp. 350 (E.D. Va. 1981). The defendants were John Dalton, then Governor of Virginia, and the top officers of the of Elections. In Cosner, the federal court merely applied the law as first articulated in the seminal case of Reynolds v Simms (377 U.S. 533). In 1964, the United States Supreme Court had declared the equal protection clause of the 14th applicable to the apportionment of the districts in state legislatures.
“Simply stated, an individual’s right to vote for state legislators is unconstitutionally impaired when its weight is in a substantial fashion diluted when compared with voters of citizens living in other parts of the state.” Reynolds at 568.
In the ensuing decades, Attorneys General of Virginia and their counterparts in other states have been in federal courts around the country trying to define the term “in a substantial fashion” as a statistical marker for legal purposes. Legendary Virginian Henry Howell, the leading anti-Byrd Democrat at the statewide election level, became the first in Virginia to put the Reynold’s decision to a constitutional test in the case of Mahan v Howell, 410 U.S. 315 (1973). Continue reading