Mark Herring has become a joke.
The leader of the most farcical campaign slogan in memory (Getting Politics Out of the Attorney General’s Office!) has proven time and again in his year and a half in office that not only was his campaign promise a lie, but also to be a larger politicization of the office than any of his predecessors, including the much-(wrongly) maligned Ken Cuccinelli.
Now, Mark Herring has proven to be a liar (again).
Last year, just 13 days into his term, Herring announced he would refuse to defend Virginia law, sending shock waves through Richmond, bringing up impeachment, Virginia Bar misconduct and other sanctions. While none of these things came to pass, Herring was put on notice that his judicial activism and cherry-picking of laws to defend/not defend would not be tolerated. Herring heeded that message:
“If it may appear to some — because it happened so early in my term — that maybe this was going to happen frequently, (but) these situations, where an attorney general comes across a case that after an independent review he concludes that a state law is unconstitutional, come along very rarely,” he said.
In his first three months in office, Herring says he has not identified other laws that he might consider constitutionally problematic.
“I’ll look at them on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “There will be a lot of cases over the term that I may disagree with as a matter of policy, but if I think the laws are adopted and constitutional, (then) I will defend them, even though I may disagree with the law.”
Or so he claimed at the time. Friday, he went ahead and did it again.
Attorney General Mark Herring will outsource the legal defense of the state’s voter ID laws and other election practices, Herring’s office announced Friday afternoon.
The Attorney General’s Office, which has about 200 lawyers on staff, brought in outside counsel in those cases as well, citing expertise and manpower needs. Herring said in a statement Friday that outside counsel for the voter ID case was needed to avoid “any concern that my previous advocacy would result in anything less than a vigorous defense.”
“Nothing is more fundamental than the right to vote and my position on these issues is clear,” Herring said in the statement. “I have consistently opposed these measures and worked hard in the legislature to combat them.”
Now, BD has been a pretty harsh (and deservedly so) critic of Herring. We’ve been sounding the alarm on his judicial activism for more than two years now.
In a deep profile piece on Democratic longshot for Attorney General, State Senator Mark Herring revealed his mistrust, distaste and flat out vitriol for Virginia voters today.
You may remember, Mark Herring has come out repeatedly against a number of positions that have been passed into Virginia law, including but not limited to:
– Virginia’s marriage constitutional amendment, passed by 57% of voters[refused to defend 02/2014]
– The recently passed Photo ID bill, supported by more than 75% of Virginians[refused to defend 06/2015]
– Right to work, supported by more than 60% of Virginians
– Solidifying property rights, passed by more than 75% of voters
Herring has repeatedly put himself on the position of outside looking in when it comes to Virginia voters.
If we elect an Attorney General who arbitrarily decides whether or not a law is constitutional, despite being overwhelming passed in the General Assembly (property rights, 35-5) or in Virginia statewide (property rights, 76%), what’s the point in passing laws? What’s the point in passing constitutional amendments by voters?
Mark Herring is declaring he knows better than you, than me, than the General Assembly, than all of Virginia.
For those counting, Herring has now refused to defend 2 of the 4 policy positions we warned you about two years ago.
Here’s more pieces on us seeking to hold Herring accountable HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Hell, we even specifically cited the Photo ID law as an area where Mark Herring would fail as an Attorney General TWO YEARS ago:
Pick and choose which legislation to defend and not.
Herring’s lack of understanding for what the job will require was so embarrassing Obenshain had to remind the audience exactly what the AG’s office is required to do. This quote from Obenshain came after Herring attacked the Photo ID legislation, popular with 75% of Virginians, but not Mark Herring:
“One of the jobs of attorney general is not to be a lawmaker, but to set aside disagreements and defend Virginia statute…”
So if the ACLU sues Virginia about the Photo ID law, as they’re sure to do, Herring is required by the duties of the office to DEFEND that law.
Now, let’s welcome Richmond-Times Dispatch to the party, including a suggestion of resignation:
Is Mark Herring is becoming The Absentee AG?
His recent service on behalf of Sweet Briar College, which we praised on Tuesday, has been commendable — but it cannot fully compensate for his falling short elsewhere.
Virginia’s attorney general famously refused to defend Virginia’s ban on gay marriage, even though he took an oath to defend the state constitution. Then he went a step further and joined the plaintiffs against it.
Herring insisted this had nothing to do with politics. It reflected the nature of the state’s marriage ban, which was so patently unconstitutional no legal defense of it could possibly be made (and never mind his previous support for the very same proposal).
Now he’s bailing out again. This time he does not want to defend the state’s voter-ID requirement, or the state’s Republican-drawn congressional districts. So he has brought in outside counsel, at taxpayer expense, to do the job. His office announced the news on a Friday afternoon, ensuring few would take note of it.
His excuse this time? He opposed the voter-ID law when he was in the General Assembly: “I have consistently opposed these measures and worked hard in the legislature to combat them.” Really? So none of the 200 lawyers in the Office of the Attorney General can defend them, either? Are they all bound by Herring’s personal convictions as well?
Any half-decent lawyer should be able to argue either side of a case at the drop of a hat. After all, a lawyer who can’t argue the opposing side’s case also can’t refute it. Personal feelings shouldn’t enter into the equation.
Everyone knows Herring has designs on the governor’s office. His motive for recusing himself again is obvious: the voting-rights and redistricting cases go to questions about minority representation. The last thing a Democratic candidate for governor needs is a primary opponent who can accuse him of stiffing black voters.
The AG office’s website stipulates that “the Office of the Attorney General is the Commonwealth’s law firm,” and Herring swore an oath to “faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me.” If those duties continue to take second place behind his personal ambitions, then perhaps he should resign — and leave the job to someone more willing to do it.
Mark Herring has been a joke of an Attorney General, who’s political ambitions have driven his every decision, while sacrificing his job responsibilities and taxpayer money to fuel his gubernatorial desires.
We agree with RTD: he should resign and just launch his campaign already. Why should Virginia continue to pay him to do nothing and outsource his office at our expense?