FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2014
Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Matille Thebolt (703-683-5004)
"Attorney General Herring swore an oath to defend the constitution of the Commonwealth, yet now he is participating in a lawsuit against the very people he is sworn to represent, the citizens of Virginia who preserved marriage in their constitution. This malfeasance and neglect of duty is not only a disgrace, it's an impeachable offense under the constitution." — Brian Brown, NOM president —
Washington, D.C. — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today called for the impeachment of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring for "malfeasance" and "neglect of duty" and violating his sworn oath of office to support the constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Instead of defending the Commonwealth's duly enacted marriage amendment, Herring is supporting a federal lawsuit by gay activists to redefine marriage in Virginia's constitution.
"The Attorney General swore an oath that he would 'support...the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia' and faithfully discharge his duties, which include defending duly enacted laws like the state's marriage amendment," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "Yet now Attorney General Herring is participating in a lawsuit against the very people he is sworn to represent, the citizens of Virginia who preserved marriage in their constitution. This malfeasance and neglect of duty is not only a disgrace, it's an impeachable offense under the constitution."
Section 17 of the Virginia state constitution provides that the Attorney General may be impeached for "malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor."
Attorney General Herring announced today that not only would he abandon the defense of Virginia's marriage amendment, he would be filing a brief in federal court advocating the redefinition of marriage against the express decision of the voters of the commonwealth, who in 2006 voted overwhelmingly to amend their state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Professor John Eastman, Chairman of NOM's Board of Directors and a highly-regarded constitutional law expert called Herring's decision "lawless." He said, "The attorney general's decision to advocate against the state's marriage law is an egregious violation of his duty. Here you don't merely have the attorney general abandoning the defense of the law and remaining neutral - a decision which itself would be based on very dubious grounds. No, this goes further: Herring is staying involved in the case, and advocating directly for the side opposed to the interests of his clients, the people of Virginia. Any other lawyer pulling that kind of nonsense would be disbarred."
Eastman is a former US Supreme Court clerk and is a professor of constitutional law at Chapman University's Dale E. Fowler School of Law, where he formerly served as Dean. He also heads the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute.
Brown noted that Herring's actions are reminiscent of what happened in California, where the state Attorney General refused to defend Proposition 8 and it was struck down by a homosexual trial judge in San Francisco. The US Supreme Court ruled that the backers of Prop 8 did not have standing to appeal the decision of the district court judge. Brown praised former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for helping ensure that other governmental defendants would be able to represent the interests of the Commonwealth in federal Court.
"Thanks to the foresight of Ken Cuccinelli, there is a governmental entity who is defending the law now that the Attorney General has abandoned his constitutional responsibility. Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg is in a position to defend the law and appeal a decision if need be. We call on the General Assembly to make sure that she has the financial and legal resources and expertise needed to effectively defend the law. We also encourage the General Assembly itself to intervene to defend the people's decision to preserve marriage."
To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, or John Eastman, Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), [email protected], or Matille Thebolt (x143), [email protected], at 703-683-5004.
Paid for by The National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, president. 2029 K Street NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. New § 68A.405(1)(f) & (h).