Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An End To Viriginia Tax Dollars Wasted On Religious Idealogy

"I'm a bigot--bye, bye!"
Just hours before leaving office,  outgoing Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion intended to desperately entrench his own anti-gay policy preferences while he could still speak as the state’s top legal official.

Cuccinelli’s non-binding opinion concluded that “a Governor may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns.”  Like most of Cuccinelli's other high-profile legal efforts, this opinion seems to be more rooted in religious and political ideology than in sound legal reasoning.  The opinion is in direct violation of Virginia state tax law that requires conformity with federal tax regulations-- and will likely be reversed as soon as the new Attorney General is done sharpening his pencils.

In 2010, Cuccinelli (in)famously initiated a prolonged campaign against Obamacare-- wasting considerable state resources on lawsuits and appeals against the federal law.  In the end, the Supreme Court refused to hear his case outright and he lost at the appeals court level after much additional legal maneuvering.

Cuccinelli also led a failed joint effort of nine states to bolster Arizona's controversial immigration law.   The majority of the law's provisions were eventually overturned as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cuccinelli once issued an opinion that  the "law of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit[s] a university from including sexual orientation as a protected class within its nondiscrimination policy."   Governor McDonnell eventually ignored that decision, issuing an Executive order that prohibited state agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

Cuccinelli also filed a legal challenge against EPA's standards for motor vehicle fuel efficiency, as specified in the Clean Air Act.  Why such an effort was in the best interests of the Commonwealth was never made clear.  Despite two years of effort arguing against the fuel standard, Cuccinelli's arguments were rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia,  who unanimously ruled that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In a widely-reported attack on academic freedom, Cuccinelli attempted to discredit leading climate change scientist Michael Mann who worked at the University of Virginia from 1999-2005.  A judge eventually dismissed Cuccinelli's wide-ranging subpoena for university records on the grounds that no justification had been shown for the investigation (a basic legal requirement for a subpoena).  Cuccinelli tried to re-open his case by issuing a revised subpoena and appealed the case to the Virginia Supreme Court, who also denied the Republican attorney general. 

More recently, Cuccinelli filed a brief supporting seven conservative Anglican parishes who wanted to keep Episcopal property and donations after leaving the Episcopal Diocese over disagreements regarding same-sex unions and female priests.  The Fairfax County circuit  court sided with the diocese, ruling that the properties must be handed over by the parishes.

Last year, after the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down Virginia's anti-sodomy law, Cuccinelli invested considerable state resources in appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court (despite a nearly identical Texas case being denied ten years earlier).  Before they even opened their 2013 term, the nine justice of the high court dismissed Cuccinelli's appeal without comment.

In such tough economic times, it's shameful that Virginia was forced to endure four long years of wasteful rantings and ravings of a bigot like Cuccinelli-- good riddance.

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