What Did He Do?
The time has come to hold Attorney General Mark Herring accountable for irresponsible actions he has taken since taking the oath of office in January. The reasons for doing so are clear.
First, he preemptively and arrogantly usurped the role and authority of the court in declaring the Virginia marriage law, itself embedded in Virginia’s Constitution, to be “unconstitutional”.
Second, he betrayed his sworn duty to uphold and defend the laws of Virginia and also to represent us as our elected advocate by actively urging a federal judge to overturn this same law that had been overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly and by over 1.3 million Virginia voters.
Third, in so doing, he undermined respect for the considered wisdom of the Virginia legislature, for the democratic process, and for the rule of law that shields a free, self-governing people from tyranny.
Fourth, by failing to perform his sworn duty, he also contributed to further weakening the protections that surround the institution of marriage and the family as the basic building block of civilization and the very heart of the law he was sworn to uphold and defend.
Above the Law?
Unfortunately, AG Herring appears to believe that he is indeed above the law. In a shockingly brazen statement on his official website, he claims a new and sweeping absolute prerogative to determine the legal position of the Commonwealth in legal cases without regard to the explicit text of our duly-enacted laws and Constitutional provisions, as follows:
“The Attorney General is the sole person empowered to present the Commonwealth's position in legal matters and it is up to him or her to determine that position through rigorous legal analysis.”
However, at the same time, he also acknowledges his responsibility to serve as an advocate for “We the People”. Specifically, on the same website, he states that “[T]he Attorney General's primary client is the people of Virginia, not just state agencies.”
The Rules of Conduct
In addition, among the Rules of Professional Conduct that have been established by the Virginia State Bar and that his actions appear to have violated are the following:
Rule 1.2(a) – A lawyer shall abide by his client’s decisions regarding the objectives of representation.
[Note: The State Bar makes clear that “Legal representation should not be denied because the client’s cause is controversial or unpopular. "]
Rule 1.3(c) – A lawyer shall not intentionally prejudice or damage a client during the course of the professional relationship.
[Note: The Bar also makes clear that “A lawyer should act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client’s behalf.”]
Rule 1.7(a) – A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if there is significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client …
[Note: By aligning himself with those who opposed the law and then actively urging the court to overturn the law, Herring did material damage to his primary client, i.e. those who voted for the marriage amendment, thus representing a clear conflict of interest.]
What to Do? Disbarment, Impeachment, or Both?
Against this background, it appears that AG Herring stands in clear contempt of his sworn duties, in violation of his ethical responsibility as the attorney of record for the people of Virginia, and in his unconscionable betrayal of our Constitution.
Therefore, as the “primary clients” of this Attorney General, “We the People” must now hold him accountable for his unprofessional, unethical, and unacceptable actions in helping to lead the charge against the very Constitution he was elected to defend.
We have three choices in this effort to restore the rule of law in Virginia and to ensure that Herring is held accountable. We can seek to have him disbarred, impeached, or both. .
For Disbarment …
The appropriate place to lodge our complaints against him in a call for disbarment is the Virginia State Bar, which regulates, licenses, and oversees all attorneys in the Commonwealth, including those employed by the government.
For example, the complaint could include a reference to Herring’s refusal to comply with his sworn duty to uphold and defend the constitution and his failure to respect the democratic process, the rule of law, the role and the authority of the General Assembly, and the will of the people who helped pass the marriage law.
After doing so, please also ask our Valley Delegates and Senators to send their own complaints to the Bar. Just click on the addresses listed below, insert your message – including the link to the Virginia State Bar shown above -- and send.
Del. Dickie Bell: DelDBell@house.virginia.gov
Del. Rob Bell: DelRBell@house.virginia.gov
Del. Ben Cline: DelBCline@house.virginia.gov
Del. Steve Landes: DelSLandes@house.virginia.gov
Del. Tony Wilt: email@example.com
Del. Todd Gilbert: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Emmett Hanger: email@example.com
Sen. Mark Obenshain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Jill Vogel: email@example.com
You can also ask other members of the General Assembly to do the same. Just go to www.virginiageneralassembly.gov to find their individual e-mail addresses and proceed as you did for the Valley legislators. You can also call them at the numbers listed.
… and for Impeachment
In addition, you can also add your voice to calls for Herring’s impeachment, for all the reasons cited above. Prepared by the Virginia Christian Alliance, the petition reads as follows:
As Virginians, we, the undersigned, believe our Commonwealth is entitled to be represented by an Attorney General who will not betray our Constitution by joining litigants in an effort to have its duly-adopted provisions declared illegal. Our collective, informed decision to preserve the sacred institution of marriage in Virginia constitutes sound public policy and is supported by compelling legal arguments.
Under these circumstances, we, the undersigned, hereby call for the impeachment of Attorney General Mark Herring, who has chosen to actively fight against this Constitutional provision rather than fulfill his duty to defend it.
You can DOWNLOAD THE PETITION HERE and then mail it to the Virginia Christian Alliance, 8659 Staples Mill Rd., Henrico, VA 23228, or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for delivery to legislators.