As we said earlier today, our sources indicate that the BOS is not planning to appoint anyone currently running for office to replace departed supervisor Shawn Williams. Republican candidate Ron Meyer, in what we think is probably a scripted move, has issued a press release, saying he would rather not be considered for such appointment. It’s a deft move, since appointing him while he is a candidate would look like (and be) political opportunism on his part and that of the remaining eight board members (consisting of seven Republicans, zero Democrats, no Independents, and Scott York). Instead, by saving them from that problem, Meyer is also making himself appear noble, as though he were humbly declining to accept a crown that was his for the taking. Ah, theater, thy name is politics.
Somewhat fumbling his otherwise impressive throw, Meyer’s statement also says he hopes whomever the board appoints will work with him on his dead-on-arrival plan to “realign” Shellhorn Road. That’s a bad move because we expect the board’s appointee will do just that, which has every likelihood of revealing how unworkable his plan is, when it collides with reality. If that happens before election day, Meyer is sunk. If his appointee can make it look feasible for two months, however, and enough voters are fooled, it may see Meyer win the election, only to be made to look the fool himself for a full four years, as he is forced to admit it couldn’t be done.
Former Broad Run supervisor Shawn Williams posted this statement to his Facebook page today:
Yesterday I resigned my position as the Broad Run District representative on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. I want to apologize to my family, colleagues, neighbors, friends and constituents for this disappointment. My understanding is that a succession plan is currently being worked out that will ensure the Broad Run District has good representation on the Board of Supervisors.
On Saturday night after a long neighborhood party I confronted my good friend and neighbor after he gave me what I know was intended as friendly advice. I want to specifically apologize to him and his family for my actions. This poor decision highlights a personal shortcoming that can no longer be denied or compartmentalized. It has become painfully clear I need help with my alcohol abuse and I am getting professional help. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.
Thank You … Shawn
The comments have been, as of this writing, unanimously supportive. Unlike a lot of elected officials whose private problems come into public view, Shawn isn’t denying that his exist, nor that he needs to confront and defeat them. Being a supervisor is a lot more work than I suspect most people know. It’s only fair and reasonable that he should devote his energy to coping with his personal life, and let the rest of the board worry about the county at this time. It’s also very uplifting to see so many people, of so varied a range of political persuasions, showing our neighbor some compassion. Some will say he should have resigned sooner, but his board service seems never to have suffered from the issues he’s dealing with at home. I really don’t think anyone can say he failed as a public servant, so any such sniping says a lot more about the sniper than it does about the target.
Wild speculation is everywhere as to who, if anyone, the remaining board members will appoint to replace him. We have some solid info on that, but will keep it to ourselves, other than to say it will not be anyone currently running for office.
Two years ago, Del. David Ramadan compelled the State Corporation Commission to “investigate” tolls on the Greenway. The nature of the investigation is kind of hard to discern, but it appears to have been authorized under Code §56-542(D). That’s the section that authorizes the SCC to set tolls in the first place. The first part of the section authorizes the SCC to set a schedule of tolls that is
…reasonable to the user in relation to the benefit obtained, not likely to materially discourage use of the roadway and provide the operator no more than a reasonable rate of return as determined by the Commission.
Okay, so SCC sets the rates according to the above criteria. Now the second part of that same section authorizes SCC to investigate and to order the substitution of a new schedule of tolls that is
… reasonable to the user in relation to the benefit obtained and which will not materially discourage use of the roadway by the public and which will provide the operator no more than a reasonable return as determined by the Commission.
No, that’s not the same section. That’s two different parts of the same paragraph. The first requires the SCC to set tolls by three criteria. After investigation, however, the SCC is allowed to change tolls so that they match the same three criteria. And, golly(!), after investigating the tolls they set already by those criteria, SCC has found that those tolls do, in fact, meet those criteria (and so they stay exactly the same as they are now).
This was the obvious and inevitable conclusion of any such “investigation” from the start. This whole thing (two years of it!) has been a complete waste of time and money. Del. Ramadan (like candidate Meyer) has gone out of his way to irritate the Greenway’s operators, when he should have been passing legislation to help them institute distance-based billing. Now, as he completes his last term in office, Ramadan leaves a final example of waste and political theater, at taxpayer expense (and lost opportunity, at his constituents’ expense).
I’ll say again that he made a memorable speech when he announced his departure from the house. It is sad, then, in more than one way, that this failure is his closing moment as a legislator.
In something of a surprise announcement, Attorney General Mark Herring said today he will not run for governor in 2017. Instead, he will run for re-election to his current post.
Mark’s been a breath, no, a tank-full, of fresh air after the ideologically obsessed abuser of office ahead of him, Ken Cuccinelli. Instead of threatening the health of women, depriving Virginians of equality, and misusing his office to persecute scholars he doesn’t agree with, Mark has taken the Commonwealth back in the direction of liberty for all, and common sense use of the power of his office. His work in favor of equality had fearful members of a fading class and generation calling for his impeachment. Mark has been able to ignore those calls, on the simple, valid logic that his oath to uphold the United States constitution overrides his oath to uphold the state’s constitution, when the two come into conflict. He stood by that oath, and Virginia is a better, more loving state today than it was before, as a result. One shudders in imagining what our legacy as a state would be if Cuccinelli, or another like him, had been in Mark’s place at that time.
Mark Herring will be a great governor of Virginia, as will Ralph Northam. If allowing him to serve another four years as a great Attorney General is what we have to do in the meantime, it will all be worth the wait.
Republican candidate for Broad Run supervisor, Ron Meyer, has a plan to confiscate private business, condemn private property, and raise your taxes, all in the name of free stuff for everyone from the government. You see, he thinks the solution to the Greenway being overpriced is to build more roads (who knew transportation problems could be solved with roads, eh?). Specifically, he says he wants to connect Shellhorn Road (which ends at Loudoun County Parkway) to Sterling Blvd (which ends at Pacific Blvd).
Well, there are few problems with that. One is the piece of private property informally known in Loudoun county as the “Antigone” parcel (after Chris Antigone, one of the partners that owns it). You can’t get from the east end of Shellhorn to the west end of Sterling without going through the middle of the Antigone parcel:
That alone means Meyer’s idea is pure science fiction, but there are still more problems with his plan. After Meyer has convinced four other supervisors to condemn Chris Antigone’s land, he still has to cope with the industrial commercial operations that are immediately west of Pacific, and still east of Antigone. Meyer must think these businesses can be bulldozed out of the way of his magic road:
Now, Meyer never says a word in the Leesburg Today interview about how he’s going to pay for the road, the condemnations he’ll need for the right of way, or the cost of relocating all those existing uses. And that’s before one considers that his road would have to cross Broad Run, not just dry, flat land. We’re talking many millions of dollars here, but ignore that for now. Meyer says the benefits would be so many that, perhaps, he thinks cost is a trivial issue.
The benefits? First, according to Leesburg Today, he says, “his goal is to take enough commuters off the toll road to force Greenway owner and operator Toll Road Investors Partnership II to come to the negotiating table and either sell the road or institute graduated tolls.” Sell the road? To whom? Loudoun County? For how much? And, if we bought it, how does Meyer know we could operate it for less than TRIP II does? And, whether he buys it or forces TRIP II to move to graduated tolls, what’s the gain? That we all start using the Greenway again? Does that justify a massively expensive project we’d end up not using, while condemning huge amounts of private property and disrupting numerous businesses?
Never. Going. To happen.
I know Chris Antigone. He’s a decent guy, but he wants that parcel used for a convention center. It’s a brilliant idea that, if done with some cooperation from MWAA, might even allow visitors to land at Dulles International, walk onto the Metro, go one stop, and walk off into the lobby of their hotel. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I doubt he’ll give up that dream in exchange for a freeway down the middle of his land. (Not to mention what a lost opportunity for prosperity that would be to Loudoun county.)
All of this just can’t be the thinking of a Republican. So what is Ron Meyer’s real political persuasion? The article offers a powerful clue, when it reports the other great benefit Meyer says this will include:
Meyer proposes extending Shellhorn Road to connect to Sterling Boulevard and create one path all the way to Rt. 28. That would almost parallel the Greenway and, he said, ‘give commuters a local, free alternative’ to the toll road.
Aha! The truth seeps out! Ron Meyer is a Socialist. He is everything Ayn Rand’s great champion of prosperity, John Galt, knew was wrong with trying to make a profit by passing a law. He wants to give you a better world for free. Who is the only party to suffer here? Meyer tells us:
‘This road—along with current projects widening Route 28 and finishing Gloucester Parkway—will take thousands of cars off the Greenway and heavily cut into their profits, Meyer said in a prepared statement.
Of course! Evil corporations must be made to pay for all the free stuff The People have the right to expect for nothing. Who cares if the board of supervisors bankrupts one of the biggest taxpayers in the county?
As absurd and unbelievable as all this is, it apparently actually is Ron Meyer’s platform. His enormous road signs all say, “Build Greenway Alternatives.” (They do not say, “Raise Taxes / Condemn Land / Kill Businesses,” but maybe that’s on the back).
Now, mixed into all this nonsense actually is a small piece of the real solution to the Greenway tolls: distance-based pricing. But nothing Ron Meyer or the Loudoun board of supervisors can do will bring that about. I know. We tried. The toll structure on the Greenway is regulated by the State Corporation Commission, which, in turn, is under the jurisdiction of the state legislature. While David Ramadan was doing all he could to ruin the state’s relationship with the Greenway’s operators, what he should have been doing was passing legislation to extend a low-interest loan to the Greenway to cover the cost of adding toll machines and new software to implement distance-based pricing. Increased use by short-haul users would allow them to pay off the loan and, assuming the use continued after that, TRIP II would actually start making a bit more money (or, just maybe, the SCC would hold off the next toll increase for a few years). That’s a public/private partnership that could work, requires no new construction, no condemnation, and helps a local business continue to operate and provide a service.
Only a Socialist could possibly find anything wrong with that.
Republican candidate Chuong Nguyen (whom I’ve met, and like), has a new flyer out. It lists a number of ways he says he’s going to change our schools:
The only problem with the first four items in his plan (in the lower left, above) is that the office he is running for is powerless to make any of them happen. Those might all be fine suggestions if he were running for the school board, but the house of delegates doesn’t control where school money goes. Indeed, for his district, the house barely contributes any of the school money it gets.
This is typical of first-time candidates who haven’t been involved in the public process much before. They say things based on their personal notions of what might be a better way to do things, not knowing that they can’t actually make any of them happen. Not only does it mislead the public about what the candidate can do if elected, it risks alienating voters who, when he fails to deliver, lose faith in the process overall. Now, if Chuong were to stick to what a legislator really does and (since he is a Republican) offer an agenda of say, more guns, more restrictions on women, more charter schools, and the other things his party supports, he might still get some votes and, if he won, he could actually vote on those things. But the public is either tired of those issues or, I think, not in favor of Republican thinking on them right now. The public wants more math and science, and more money in the classrooms (actually, they want full-day kindergarten). So, heck, just say you’ll get those things instead of what you’ll most likely really end up voting for.
Anything to get elected, eh?
Everyone is crowing about what they are discovering in the leaked Ashley Madison database and, to some extent, it’s worth crowing about. A local elected official, a former local elected official’s spouse, and a local elected official’s son are all in there, at least apparently. But I am amused in particular by a blogger who seems to have direct access to a live copy of the stolen data, and who says that it contains evidence of criminal misconduct. Not to upset the readership unduly, that blogger is apparently ignoring the fact that, in Virginia, attempted adultery is a crime. No, the schadenfreude here is the political tyro’s favorite kind: that arising from proof that an elected official has violated a campaign finance law. In this case, Black Velvet Bruce Li claims to have mined proof from the stolen data that a candidate for the Virginia state senate is misusing campaign resources by devoting them to activity on Ashley Madison. With a table apparently culled directly from the Ashley Madison data, he suggests that law enforcement authorities can start with that as evidence, “if they’re inclined to do the right thing.”
FirewallNoVa has the skills needed to obtain our own copy of that data too, and to search it for similarly hilarious records. But, we’re not doing that. Why not? Because, you see, in Virginia, taking receipt of stolen property is a crime. Others made this point first, and we think it’s valid. Just because the stolen property reveals a lot of people to be bums isn’t a defense. Law enforcement authorities might want to investigate. They can start with this, if they’re inclined to do the right thing…
Dedicated to making guff out of even the most basic facts of a story, The Bull Elephant reports that it was United States Marines who thwarted a one-man terrorist attack on a European train today. Easy to understand why they got it wrong (again): their source was Breitbart.
As credible media is reporting, the heroes were a member of the United States Air Force, a member of the National Guard, and two civilians. Great work by brave men. But an absolutely classic example of what happens when a good story ends up being reported by wrap-everything-in-the-flag conservatives: if American service members tackled a bad guy, then it had to be the Marines.
We note, by the way, that all of the men who stopped this guy (armed with a pistol and an AK-47) were unarmed. Waiting already for the first person who says this is another case where things would have gone better if all the passengers had their own pistols. Can’t you just picture the obvious advantages to panicked people all firing at anyone else they see with a gun? Yeah. Me neither.
Forgive me for the all-caps word in the title of this post; I am not one who likes to make his points by emphasis instead of reason. But, the pleasant folks over at The Bull Elephant like it that way, so I’m following suit as this is a response to Steve Albertson’s post there entitled, “Birthright citizenship is NOT guaranteed by the Constitution.”
For the TLDRs out there: He’s wrong, it is.
For those who had the patience to read his post, and want more details, maybe you’ll read this post too. Albertson cites three sources of law in his discussion: the Fourteenth Amendment; a Supreme Court decision known as “The Slaughter-House Cases;” and the Supreme Court decision in “U.S v. Wong Kim Ark.” In short, here’s Albertson’s take: 14A grants citizenship to people born in the United States, but only upon the qualification that those people be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; The Slaughter-House Cases opinion includes the statement, “…‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.”; and that the Wong decision held that birth in the United States granted citizenship, but the decision was about parents legally within the United States, so the grant of citizenship to children of parents illegally in the United States was not addressed.
Well he’s wrong, for a few complicated reasons, and one really simple one. Let’s do complicated first. If Albertson were right, that “Slaughter-House” excluded “citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States” from 14A’s citizenship by birth, the question of whether or not theparents of the newborn were legally or illegally within the United States would make no difference. Anyone a citizen or subject of a foreign state would simply not be a United States citizen, end of story. So how could Wong, who was born in California to two Chinese parents who were not citizens of the United States be a citizen, given that “Slaughter-House” appears unequivocally to have declared him ineligible? Albertson seems to have read the decision in Wong, so he knows. Here’s what he knew, but left out of his post at TBE:
Mr. Justice Miller, indeed, while discussing [in the Slaughter-House decision] the causes which led to the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, made this remark: ‘The phrase ‘subject to its jurisdiction’ was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign states, born within the United States.’ 16 Wall. 73. This was wholly aside from the question in judgment, and from the course of reasoning bearing upon that question. It was unsupported by any argument, or by any reference to authorities; and that it was not formulated with the same care and exactness as if the case before the court had called for an exact definition of the phrase is apparent from its classing foreign ministers and consuls together; whereas it was then well settled law, as has since been recognized in a judgment of this court in which Mr. Justice Miller concurred, that consuls, as such, and unless expressly invested with a diplomatic character in addition to their ordinary powers, are not considered as intrusted with authority to represent their sovereign in his intercourse with foreign states, or to vindicate his prerogatives, or entitled by the law of nations to the privileges and immunities of ambassadors or public ministers, but are subject to the jurisdiction, civil and criminal, of the courts of the country in which they reside. 1 Kent, Comm. 44; Story, Confl. Laws, § 48; Wheat. Int. Law (8th Ed.) § 249; The Anne (1818) 3 Wheat. 435, 445, 446; Gittings v. Crawford (1838) Taney, 1, 10, Fed. Cas. No. 5,465; In re Baiz (1890) 135 U. S. 403, 424, 10 Sup. Ct. 854.
In weighing a remark uttered under such circumstances, it is well to bear in mind the often-quoted words of Chief Justice Marshall: ‘It is a maxim, not to be disregarded, that general expressions, in every opinion, are to be taken in connection with the case in which those expressions are used. If they go beyond the case, they may be respected, but ought not to control the judgment in a subsequent suit when the very point is presented for decision. The reason of this maxim is obvious. The question actually before the court is investigated with care, and considered in its full extent. Other principles which may serve to illustrate it are considered in their relation to the case decided, but their possible bearing on all other cases is seldom completely investigated.’
In other words, what “Slaughter-House” said about foreign nationals not being granted citizenship by birth was what lawyers call “dictum,” and dictum is not law. In Wong, the court clearly and directly looked at the statement Albertson relies upon, and ruled with certainty that it was incorrect. To the extent that it was ever authoritative, Wong reversed it. Moreover, Albertson’s claim that Wong held that the children of legal residents were citizens (and thus leaves open the question of children of illegal residents) is simply incorrect. The residency status of Wong’s parents is never addressed. Here, at (alas) full-length, is what the Supreme Court said were the operant facts:
The facts of this case, as agreed by the parties, are as follows: Wong Kim Ark was born in 1873, in the city of San Francisco, in the state of California and United States of America, and was and is a laborer. His father and mother were persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China. They were at the time of his birth domiciled residents of the United States, having previously established and are still enjoying a permanent domicile and residence therein at San Francisco. They continued to reside and remain in the United States until 1890, when they departed for China; and, during all the time of their residence in the United States, they were engaged in business, and were never employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the emperor of China. Wong Kim Ark, ever since his birth, has had but one residence, to wit, in California, within the United States and has there resided, claiming to be a citizen of the United States, and has never lost or changed that residence, or gained or acquired another residence; and neither he, nor his parents acting for him, ever renounced his allegiance to the United States, or did or committed any act or thing to exclude him therefrom.
That’s it. No reference whatsoever to the legality (or lack thereof) of the residency of Wong’s parents. He was born here, subject to United States jurisdiction. That makes him a citizen, Justice Miller’s erroneous dictum in “Slaughter-House” notwithstanding.
Now, before I get to the simple reason Albertson is wrong, I’ll offer a tip to wannabe constitutional scholars, one given to me when I was in law school by a real constitutional scholar: when you are looking at cases involving the Bill of Rights and the Civil War Amendments, particularly 14A, beware of anything much older than the 20th century’s civil-rights era. “Slaughter-House” was decided in 1873. Wong was 1898. Sure, old law is often still good law. Marbury v. Madison, from 1803, endures, although a lot of conservative thinkers still say it was wrongly decided, so maybe they wouldn’t use that one to defend otherwise venerable decisions. But, if you want to stand on firmer ground, you want to find something a little more recent, and something that doesn’t just give you dictum to uphold you.
So here’s the simple reason: That birth in the United States confers citizenship to the child of parents illegally residing here was declared unequivocally, and not in dictum, by the Supreme Court in 1985:
Respondents, a married couple, are natives and citizens of Mexico… [They] paid a professional smuggler $450 to transport them into this country, entering the United States without inspection through the smuggler’s efforts… INS then instituted deportation proceedings against both respondents. By that time, respondent wife had given birth to a child, who, born in the United States, was a citizen of this country. INS v. Rios-Pineda, 471 US 444
Pretty plain, isn’t it? A direct ruling that the child of illegal residents was a citizen of the United States, solely by virtue of being born in the United States. And it’s not dictum, because the couple argued specifically that the citizenship of their children (there were eventually two, when, in the wording of the court, “respondent wife gave birth to a second citizen child”) was a relevant issue to their claim of hardship. The court accepted their children as citizens and conducted its hardship analysis on that basis.
Rios-Pineda was a unanimous decision (8-0, one Justice recusing himself), including that well knownflaming lefty, William H. Rehnquist.
So there it is. The dictum in “Slaughter-House” was rejected in Wong, which did not even consider the residency status of the parents when it found that birth in the United States confers citizenship on the child (unless the parents are under diplomatic jurisdiction), with citizenship by birth unanimously accepted by the court, about a hundred years later.
The question of whether or not anyone born in the United States should be a citizen thereby is, perhaps, a legitimate one. The question of whether or not the constitution currently grants citizenship on that basis, however, is not. It does, and anyone who wants it otherwise will need a new amendment to make it so.
(If you want something even more up to date, there’s a great little briefing on the subject, prepared in 2012 by the Congressional Research Service. I’d say you should always go to something like that for guidance on the law, and not to The Bull Elephant, but that would just be dictum.)
The Senate adjourned yesterday without nominating a new justice for the Supreme Court of Virginia and without drawing new boundaries for our congressional districts. Thus, a federal district court judge will draw those boundaries and Gov. McAuliffe will be free to re-appoint Judge Roush until the next General Assembly sits in January, by which time the senate may be under Democratic control.
Before we consider what kind of legislative
nightmare compromise might come from a split assembly, however, let’s take one step back and ask what may be a pertinent question: did the Senate actually adjourn? It’s a question because the constitution of Virginia appears to say they can’t adjourn without permission from the House (and vice versa, for that matter).
Article IV. Legislature
Section 6. Legislative sessions
The General Assembly shall meet once each year on the second Wednesday in January. Except as herein provided for reconvened sessions, no regular session of the General Assembly convened in an even-numbered year shall continue longer than sixty days; no regular session of the General Assembly convened in an odd-numbered year shall continue longer than thirty days; but with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members elected to each house, any regular session may be extended for a period not exceeding thirty days. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn to another place, nor for more than three days.
Now, one might say that the constitution’s permission requirement only applies to regular sessions, not special sessions. That’s not the plainest reading, but one might say it. However, one would then have to say why it has been past practice for the two bodies to pass a joint resolution, extending their permissions to each other, in prior special sessions. No such resolution has been passed in this special session, causing some Republicans to claim that the adjournment was unconstitutional.
Maybe those Republicans are missing their own point, though. Did the Senate adjourn, or was its allegedly unconstitutional action a nullity? It’s important to know which for a couple of reasons: if they did, in fact, adjourn, how can the House now adjourn without acting equally unconstitutionally? With no Senate in session to give its consent, the House must simply remain in session. If so, is the legislature in session? If it is, can the governor use his interim appointment power to re-appoint Judge Roush, or is he precluded by virtue of there being no interim? Indeed, if the Senate’s adjournment was ineffective, then the Senate and the house are both still in session, virtually eliminating the governor’s interim powers. (Republicans have been using this trick, albeit in a constitutional form, in the federal legislature by recessing, rather than adjourning, then “reconvening” every three days for about a minute-and-a-half, to bar interim appointments by the president.)
Who can raise this question, and where? I predict we will see House Speaker Howell raise it in court, by having the House sue the Senate to compel it to reconvene and adjourn by the dictates of the constitution. I doubt he’ll care about needing the Senate’s permission, but he’ll want to have a court’s ruling that the Senate never adjourned, so as to declare any interim action by McAuliffe to be void.
The Democrats may have adjourned in order to avoid having any presumptive “first draft” of a map ready for a judge to look at, as any such map would have been drawn by the Republican majorities of both houses (and vetoed by McAuliffe). Commentators are saying this is a gamble, in the hope that the judge will simply draw a map with neutral partisan bias in it (which Democrats feel is better for them, as the current map favors Republicans). It’s a clever procedural move, but only if the Senate’s adjournment is legally valid. It may not be valid and, I predict, we’ll hear more about it before the next congressional boundaries are finalized.
The House of Delegates nominated Rossie Alston for a seat on the state supreme court. The senate nomination failed, 20-20, with Lt. Gov. Northam breaking the tie with a vote against. Neither house nominated anyone else, so interim appointee Jane Roush is now out of a job, and Virginia has a short-staffed supreme court, with six justices and an empty chair.
Locally, the president of the county bar association, along with nine past presidents, signed a joint letter to the legislature, asking that politics not sully the process.
Because both sides in this dispute have openly acknowledged the fitness and high qualifications of this sitting justice, and because considerations that have nothing to do with this justice appear to be the source of the dispute, her removal from office would be completely unjustified[.]
If you look at the names of the signatories, you will see members of competing political persuasions. This should not be how our legislature sends messages, makes points, or flexes its official muscle.
I’ve met the Republican pick, Judge Alston. He seems like a smart, well spoken, very compassionate man. My personal opinion is that he proclaims a bit more faith in divine guidance than I feel comfortable with in a judge, but that he is nonetheless qualified. But so
is was Justice Roush. Even the Republicans say so. And you can think Republican Senator John Watkins for the fact that his party wasn’t able to do a quick replacement (because he was the only Republican to vote “no,” creating the 20-20 tie that keeps the seat vacant). Watkins is not running for re-election. This means the next senate will have to vote on Roush’s replacement. With the majority now in play, this elevates the issue of how we pick our judges to an election-year issue.
This is a hot mess that should have been avoided. Maybe the governor should have taken more steps to obtain Republican approval (apparently, Dave Albo isn’t good enough). Maybe the majority should have put forth their nominee sooner. In either case, deference to what they call a “highly qualified” judge should have taken precedence over playing political football, and our legislature wasn’t up to that. Call this one a fail for the Democrats, but two fails for the Republicans, with the second one being ongoing until at least next year. (Oh, and, not a fail, but an inexcusable way to treat two decent judges who have no blame to take for any of this, but who are being politically molested and/or exploited, all for the sake of someone else’s agenda.)
Government doesn’t get any bigger than this: a Paraguayan girl, eleven years old, was forced by her country’s laws, against her will, against her mother’s will, and in spite of outcry from every corner of the planet, to deliver her rapist’s baby. Eleven. Years. Old.
At the risk of being absurd, she may be one of the lucky ones, as Paraguayan girls go. You see, Paraguay is a pro-lifer’s dream come true. It is very near to being an abortion-free zone. The United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs reports that the sole basis upon which a pregnant woman can legally obtain an abortion there is when she would die without it. So, of course, abortion is almost non-existent there.
Except that it is rampant, and it is killing Paraguay’s girls.
See, here’s the thing no allegedly pro-life person wants to admit to: you don’t save lives when you make abortion a crime, because making abortion a crime doesn’t stop abortions. Paraguay is the proof. In spite of its near total ban on the procedure, Paraguay has an abortion rate of between 100-150 per 1,000 pregnancies (it’s hard to get accurate data, because, you know, people are reluctant to report their own criminal behavior: you can look here for an estimate). For an abortion-free zone, that’s a shocking number. Compare it to the relatively abortion-friendly nation of the United States: the rate here is about 20 per 1,000, or maybe a little less. For a jaw-dropping statistic, look at Sweden: their rate is just over 18 per 1,000, lower, even, than our own. Why is it jaw-dropping? Because, in Sweden, abortion is available on demand. The government (meaning, yes, the Swedish taxpayers) pay for it. Any woman who wants one, gets one. And they have nearly the lowest rate in the world. Read that again: Sweden provides free abortions on demand, and Sweden has nearly the lowest abortion rate in the world. Paraguay? In Paraguay, thanks to making it illegal, abortion is in over five times the demand it is here in the United States.
But it gets worse. Illegal abortions tend to be conducted by unskilled people, in unsafe conditions. That’s why 23 out of 100 deaths of young women in Paraguay are caused by botched illegal abortions. Read that again, too: 23% of young women who die in Paraguay, die because abortion is illegal there. That’s not counting the fetus, which, if one is a pro-lifer, would raise that number to 31 out of 100 (because about half of those 23 abortions would involve a female fetus, raising the female death total to 35 out of 112, or about 31%).
So there you have it. A nation that claims to be utterly pro-life has an abortion epidemic as a result, and that epidemic is a leading killer of its young women. Another nation gives free, safe abortions on demand, and has the lowest rate around.
If you are truly on the side of life, which nation would you say is doing better?