Blogging the Amendment

Offering a Forum to Discuss the Pros and Cons of the Marshall/Newman Amendment

Lawyers, Lawyers Everywhere … Red Herrings and Other Smelly Fish

More than 100 attorneys and legal scholars from around Virginia have joined the Virginia Legal Review Committee to express concern about the “significant and largely unpredictable legal consequences” of Ballot Question #1, the proposed amendment to the Virginia Bill of Rights that will be before the voters on NOvember 7th.

Among the attorneys and legal scholars, who, as of September 7, 2006, have given permission for their names to be included on a growing list of those concerned about the legal consequences of the so-called marriage amendment, are former Attorneys General Stephen D. Rosenthal and Anthony F. Troy and former Republican candidate for Attorney General Wyatt B. Durette. 

Also included are former Virginia Secretary of Education during the Wilder Administration, The Honorable James W. Dyke and former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, The Honorable Michael J. Schewel.

Arguing that voters shouldn’t be concerned about any of this are representatives from the Attorney General’s office who dismiss concerns about the “unintended consequences” of the amendment that will be Ballot Question #1 as nothing more than a “red herring.” See stories here and here

Of course, the Attorney General is an active advocate and fundraiser for amendment proponents; that kind of undercuts the reliability of any opinion issued from his office, doesn’t it? If there’s a smelly fish somewhere, one can argue that it’s the insistence of his office that it can offer “neutral” explanations of the amendment while the boss is out playing the active advocate for one side of the constitutional argument.

But the real bottom line for voters here is that, where no one can agree, everyone should vote NO…

At best, what we have here is reasonable lawyers arguing credibly very different views of what the proposed Marshall/Newman amendment will do and what legal consequences the amendment will have for straight couples and unmarried domestic violence victims. 

As a thinking voter, shouldn’t you think twice about voting for anything that generates this much legal conflict? 

Would you sign a contract that included language that no lawyer could explain with confidence? or about which seasoned and credible lawyers are arguing?

Why, then, would you think about voting for an amendment to Virginia’s constitution that has hundreds of lawyers saying they don’t know what it means or what it will do?

And, then there’s the simple beauty of Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson’s admonition to voters …. “Leave Constitutions alone.”

Update:

Rick Sincere has posted a comment about lawyers and legal opinions.

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September 8, 2006 - Posted by | limited government, politics of marriage, unintended consequences

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