Herring: Virginia Attorney General’s Office Aims To Help State Residents

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Source - The Leesburg Today

Virginia’s attorney general’s office has had a new focus over the past 16 months, its current occupant said Saturday night: using the law to help all state residents.

Attorney General Mark Herring was the keynote speaker at the Loudoun County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. He said that his approach to the job of being the Old Dominion’s top lawyer hasn’t been the same as that of his predecessors over the past two decades, all Republicans.

“We have shown people a different vision for the office,” the Democrat, a Loudoun native, told a crowd at the Holiday Inn Washington-Dulles.

Herring said that his office has been “fighting for the basic human dignity and rights of all Virginians,” and he outlined legal positions he’s taken that reversed course from Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who served immediately before him.

The most famous of those was switching the commonwealth’s stance on same-sex marriage: Cuccinelli was against it; Herring supports it.

“For that,” Herring said, “there were some people who tried to impeach me. They tried to get me disbarred.”

But he said he was “not about to be bullied and intimidated into doing something that wasn’t right for the people of Virginia.”

A federal court agreed with Herring’s position, and appeals of that decision were unsuccessful, a sequence of events that created an atmosphere in which 1,500 same-sex couples have been married, “thousands more” have had their out-of-state unions officially recognized and children of those couples have been afforded legal protections like other youngsters.

Herring also attended oral arguments on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court recently, and he said that trip contrasted with other times Virginia attorneys general went to the nation’s highest court and “argued on the wrong side of the law.”

For example, he pointed out, the state argued for segregation in a case that was combined with the Brown v. Board of Education case that ultimately resulted in integration.

And, in Loving v. Virginia, the commonwealth argued unsuccessfully in favor of a ban on interracial marriage.

In those cases, Herring noted, the Virginia attorney general was “going to the Supreme Court, arguing against the extension of civil rights for people who needed it.”

However, he said, “This time, when I was there, I was there because I was part of a chorus of millions who were standing up for equality for all Virginians and all Americans.”

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