Oh boy. Wanna-be attorney* Bob Marshall is now doubling down and lecturing the governor in an email. Of course the Attention Seeking One had to release his personal email publicly in order to avoid the dreadful fate of being ignored:
“Your support of this judicial appointment by circuit judges means you hold the appointed judiciary to be a branch of Virginia’s government superior to the branch elected by the people, the General Assembly,” Marshall wrote.
Not so much. The Circuit Court judges were well within their right to make this appointment. The Court’s responsibility in that role is to make sure that appointees to the bench are the most qualified, not to bow down to the whims of peculiar politicians. More Bob:
“We can and do differ over the alleged qualifications of this nominee. And I note that your endorsement of the nominee considerably relaxes the standards as to what constitutes disqualifying factors for judicial appointments.”
What “standards?” What “disqualifying factors”? Everything claimed by the self-proclaimed “military caucus” during the May 15 testimony has since been debunked – and would have been debunked then and there were it not for the sleazy motion to call the question and thereby prevent rebuttal. I’ll address just two of those claims – ones that, if true, might have had a shred of merit: First, that Mr. Thorne-Begland lied about his sexual orientation when he enlisted in the military, demonstrating a lack of character. This claim was false. At the time that he enlisted, Mr. Thorne-Begland had not yet come to terms with his sexuality. By his subsequent refusal to lie, he actually demonstrated the highest character. He also exposed the absurdity of a now-defunct military policy that directly undermined servicemembers’ honor and integrity by openly encouraging them to lie.
Secondly, the claim was made that Mr. Thorne-Begland violated military rules prohibiting political activity by publicly coming out and by advocating for reform of anti-gay policies. This claim was also false. The military prohibition on political activities refers explictly to partisan activities. Mr. Thorne-Begland’s testimony was in no way partisan, nor was he in uniform when he disclosed his orientation on Nightline. Furthermore, as noted by Republican Delegate Richard Morris, his appearance at a Congressional hearing, along with 17 other servicemembers in uniform, was at the order of his superiors – so how could it be conceived of as a violation of policy? Delegate Morris, who initially believed the testimony of the “military caucus,” later investigated these claims and changed his position. He is not alone. In a lengthy memo to the Republican Caucus, Morris writes:
Nowhere in Navy regulations does it state that one cannot speak out against an administrative policy. In fact, throughout the history of the United States military there have been many who have spoken against certain administrative policies of the military in an effort to change those administrative policies.
“However, I and others are stunned by your open embrace of the judicial activists on the Richmond Circuit Court who have effectively usurped a constitutional power belonging to the General Assembly by selecting a nominee after he was rejected by the assembly.”
And where exactly does Virginia’s constitution grant legislators the power to make stuff up? Not only did the opponents of Mr. Thorne-Begland’s appointment lie to their colleagues, and then block any rebuttal of their lies, they launched their unannounced attack during an otherwise routine session taking place at 1:00 AM when many delegates were already back at home in their districts. The Court owes no deference to this sort of deliberate mischief. And the claims of some non-voting delegates, not exactly Profiles in Courage, that they were legitimately absent have been neatly demonstrated to be false by Waldo Jaquith. The good news is that those who did the wrong thing – I’m looking at you, Joe May and Randy Minchew – will have a chance to do the right thing next year, and there is ample opportunity for them to save face while doing so. They were intentionally misled. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorialized, “Perhaps no phrase in American politics is more needed, and less uttered, than ‘I was wrong.'”
This unethical little “incident” is, as it should be, blowing up in the faces of Marshall and his Bronze Age cronies from the so-called Virginia “Family Foundation.” We’ll just have to wait and see which ones continue to debase themselves and their party when the appointment is again before the General Assembly, and which ones are starting to get the memo.
*Thank you to James Young for this correction. It explains a lot.