There it is

Think of this what you will, but this is what defense lawyers do for a living, and this is the way our criminal justice system works. No, it can’t be substantiated whether this individual is, in fact, a criminal defense lawyer, and no, it would not be in his/her stated self interest to see the amendment defeated. Those are certainly legitimate arguments. However, Virginia domestic violence service agencies have been told exactly the same thing by known criminal defense lawyers. Posted anonymously on another blog:

Nope, this isn’t lawyer fear-mongering. This is a lawyer giving you a promise you can take to the bank.

Here’s another. I *promise* you that on the first occasion after the Marshall-Newman amendment becomes a part of the Virginia Constitution, I will use the amendment to challenge Virginia’s domestic violence laws.

Look, I’m as liberal as they come, but I’m primarily a criminal defense lawyer, and I like it. One of the things I like the most is making certain that my clients – most of whom are guilty – are nonetheless given every opportunity to defend themselves against the power of the state.

So, take this to the bank. This lawyer, and the thousands of others around the state who defend accused domestic assaulters, each will be taking advantage of the opportunity to explot the Marshall-Newman amendment for our clients’ benefit.

Will it work? I don’t know, you don’t either, and our activist judges aren’t issuing advisory opinions.

Of course, our “activist judges” have issued a very real opinion that the existing prohibition on recognizing civil unions in another state is interpreted to trump even federal law. It’s a little hard to believe, therefore, that they wouldn’t interpret the constitution to trump Virginia law.

It makes me sick to my stomach that some amendment proponents are talking about the fact that unmarried domestic violence victims are, right this minute, being denied protective orders while conflicting court rulings are appealed over whether such protective orders are a “benefit of marriage,” as if it’s some sort of abstract, unimportant question, as if these are not real, living, breathing people whose lives have been put in jeopardy for political gain.

The fact that the lives of these people have been placed in jeopardy is being described, over and over again, as a “red herring,” and a “doom-and-gloom argument.” I cannot begin to express how disgusted I am with this abdication of moral responsibility by those who claim to speak for “family values.”

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2 Responses to There it is

  1. David, whoever wrote that is being completely disingenuous. Virginia domestic violence law is based on who lives in the house, not whether they are spouses or “living as” spouses. The language is not even in the statute.

    I’ve spoken with the CCV people: Not only are the Ohio and Virginia domestic violence laws totally different, but the Ohio situation is going to change. Either the court will do it, or CCV will do it. As soon as it became apparent that wife-beater (or girlfriend-beater) defense lawyers would use the Ohio DOMA to seek lesser – misdemeanor – charges for their clients, CCV hired an attorney and had new legislation drafted. The decision on the Carswell case will be rendered late this year or early 2007. If the court’s decision is to extend the restrictions of the DOMA to domestic violence cases, the Ohio statute on domestic violence will definitely be rewritten.

    Honestly, didn’t everyone think it a bit ironic that a “family values” group – regardless of what you think of them – would be trying to protect abusive boyfriends?

    Yeah, I know CCV filed the amicus brief – I’ll spell out that whole story at our blog when I have a chance. The reason was very obvious once they explained it to me, and I’ll bet you also could guess what it was. Their hand was forced, in short. But they are very determined the DOMA will not be used to protect abusive boyfriends.

  2. David says:

    Virginia domestic violence law is based on who lives in the house, not whether they are spouses or “living as” spouses. The language is not even in the statute.

    You’re right, it’s not in the statute, and I think that is exactly what confuses people. That is the language in a Virginia court ruling that establishes the legal meaning of the term “cohabit,” which is the language in the statute.

    I do indeed find it ironic that “family values” is the term used to describe a movement and ideology that intends to maintain fundamental inequality between men and women. As stated by Russell Moore, theology dean and academic vice president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Patriarchy is good for women, good for children and good for families.” Christians need to recover an “authentic biblical patriarchy” to counter the arguments of evangelicals who “accept male headship in theory but in practice make decisions in the home through negotiation, mutual submission and consensus.”

    I look forward to the forthcoming explanation of the CCV amicus brief, thanks for letting us know.