RICHMOND, VA, January 31, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is facing increased calls for impeachment in light of his decision to not defend his state's marriage amendment.
After he announced the decision last week, Herring faced an impeachment call from the National Organization for Marriage. Those calls have now expanded to include Tea Party Nation's Judson Phillips and unnamed grassroots conservative organizations.
Republicans hold the state House in Virginia, which is where impeachment hearings are held. Since Herring holds the position of Attorney General, the House has the right to appoint prosecutors “according to the laws of the land.”
In 2006, Herring voted for the state's marriage amendment that would respect marriage as between a man and a woman, which was approved by a majority of state voters. Since then, Herring says his position has changed, and he now supports same-sex “marriage.”
What is bringing out cries for impeachment is not Herring's personal perspective on the issue, however. It's partially that as a candidate for Attorney General in 2013 he said he would “try in good faith to find a basis to defend the amendment's legality,” despite his personal view, according to the The Virginian-Pilot's endorsement of Herring for Attorney General.
More importantly, Herring took an oath that he will “support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me.”
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According to Politico, Herring said he has pledged “to put the law and put Virginians first. … It’s about what the law requires here, and we have concluded, I have concluded, that the law here is unconstitutional, and I think the Supreme Court … would find the law unconstitutional.”
The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether bans on same-sex “marriage” are unconstitutional. It has ruled that states can make their own decisions on defining marriage.
The state's two bishops also criticized the decision, calling on Herring “to do the job he was elected to perform, which is to defend the state laws he agrees with, as well as those state laws with which he personally disagrees.”
Criticisms have also come from unexpected quarters. Former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman and Virginia-based conservative blogger and talk show host Norman Leahy wrote in Wednesday's Washington Post that “Herring chose not to live up to his pledge to Virginians.” And while the reputable Scotus Blog didn't offer an opinion on Herring's actions, a post did note Herring's actions go “even further than the Obama administration has gone, and than any federal appeals court has gone.”
Newly-elected Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told over 30 GOP lawmakers who urged him to appoint a special counsel that while “the effective administration of our legal system requires zealous advocacy on all matters before the courts,” no counsel would be created. Instead, according to The Washington Blade, McAuliffe will let Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer and Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg, as well as the Family Foundation of Virginia and the Alliance Defending Freedom, defend the law.
A hearing on the lawsuits against the marriage amendment was supposed to be held on Thursday, but snowfall delayed it.