Virginia Bill Forces AG To Defend Ban On Gay Marriages

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill on Tuesday designed to require the state’s attorney general or a designee to represent the commonwealth in cases challenging the state’s laws or the state Constitution, a little more than a year after Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced he would not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage.

The measure cleared the GOP-controlled House on a 68-32 vote on crossover day, which is the last day during the legislative session for the House and Senate to act on its own legislation, with exceptions that include the budget bill.

Del. Brenda L. Pogge, James City Republican and original sponsor of the measure, said the bill was not designed to be a political statement, but rather to ensure the state has representation in future cases if similar situations arise.

“It wasn’t the issue of gay marriage so much as the [principle] that we had an attorney general who had sworn to uphold the Constitution of Virginia and was AWOL on our first challenge,” Ms. Pogge said Tuesday.

Soon after Mr. Herring announced his decision last January, a federal judge ended up ruling the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional in February — a decision that was upheld last summer by a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A spokesman for Mr. Herring said he didn’t think the bill was necessary and that it was clearly motivated by Mr. Herring’s “correct determination that Virginia’s marriage ban was unconstitutional.”

….Last August the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to stay the ruling by the 4th Circuit after Mr. Herring petitioned the high court for a prompt review of the case.

In October the Supreme Court then declined to take up appeals from five states with gay marriage bans, including Virginia, which cleared the way for marriage licenses to be issued in the state. The high court also declined to intervene this week after a federal court’s recently ruling Alabama’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, leading some advocates to speculate the court will rule that gays and lesbians have a constitutionally protected right to marry when it takes the issue up this term.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a constitutional amendment in 2005 defining marriage in Virginia as between one man and one woman, and voters ratified the amendment with 57 percent of the vote in 2006….

By David Sherfinski – The Washington Times –

Taming the Endangered Species Act

The increasing use of the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) places that agency on track to regulate a massive amount of the nation’s land as a habitat for one or more of the listed species and the ones that will be considered in the next few years.

Until now, FWS has been virtually unstoppable in its bid to become land manager of the nation. Recent actions however, have sought to push back on that power play, including a provision in the recent legislation to fund the federal government for 2015 that would prohibit funding for further rules to place sage-grouse on the Endangered Species List. Another attempt comes directly from the local citizens being affected by FWS listings; it is an event that pits man vs. dog.

This story begins with the Utah prairie dog. It lives only in the southwestern corner of Utah, a sparsely populated desert area, a four hour drive from Salt Lake City and consisting mostly of federal lands and two national parks (Zion and Bryce Canyon). The animal is 12 – 14 inches long and weighs up to three pounds. It constantly burrows, leaving parks, backyards, fields, and other public spaces pockmarked with holes and tunnels. There are even tales of it digging in cemeteries during funerals.

As an endangered species, its habitat, including areas that it might someday move to, is protected by the FWS, no matter how much it impacts communities. The population is stable, averaging 35,000. As a concession to farmers, FWS allows them to remove 5000 of these animals from agricultural lands for safety reasons. Everyone else must live with these diggers and must manage their property around them, no matter what the cost or impact, including not being able to develop private property.

Tired of having the little amount of private property available for use in Southwest Utah subject to federal regulatory restrictions, a group of citizens organized a coalition called “People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners” (“PETPO”) to take on the entire machinery of the federal government that protects the Utah prairie dog so it can continue to destroy their property.

PETPO challenged the constitutional authority of the federal government to protect the Utah prairie dog on private land. It argued that the prairie dog does not substantially affect interstate commerce, which is the only constitutional support for federal regulation of these animals. The government countered that even if the prairie dog has no value and no effect on commerce, it can still be regulated because federal regulation of all species has a substantial effect on commerce. In short, the government argues all regulation is constitutional because the purpose of regulation is to affect commerce.

Most of the time courts give deference to agency decisions, but in this case, the court ruled that the proper constitutional focus must be on the regulated activity not the fact that the government’s regulation impacts commerce. It reasoned that if the regulated activity impacts national markets, the federal government has the power to regulate. But if the regulated activity (in this case the Utah prairie dog) has no impact on national markets, the federal government does not have the power to regulate.

In applying the law to the facts, the court found in favor of PETPO because the Utah prairie dog lives only in southwestern Utah and its diminution would not significantly alter the supply or quantity of animals for which there is a national market.

What is most significant about this case is that the purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect ecosystems and on this point the court found that just the protection of an ecosystem may not be sufficient impact on commerce to be constitutional under the commerce clause….

By William Kovacs – Fox News –

Does your right to biological privacy end when you flush? Police want to test your waste without warrant

In a naked attempt to shred the Constitution’s privacy and due process provisions, drug warriors are pursuing a new avenue of prosecution: Testing your sewage waste to see if you’ve been naughty or nice when it comes to using a drug Uncle Sam has deemed illegal.

What’s worse, there are actually some who are serving as cheerleaders for all of this.

According to a news release from the American Chemical Society:

“The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S., was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology and could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working.” [emphasis added]

Study authors Kurunthachalam Kannan and Bikram Subedi said that, today, most techniques used to estimate drug use in the country are based on surveys, criminal statistics and drug seizures by law enforcement agencies. However, they say that a lot of illicit drug use is occurring that otherwise is not being measured.

So, to compensate for that dearth of statistical evidence, the study authors advocate testing wastewater — sewage — for evidence of drug use in certain population areas.

Can police simply test your waste without a warrant?

“Like a lot of other compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products to pesticides, illegal drugs and their metabolic byproducts also persist in sewage,” the ACS news release said. “In Europe, a number of studies have been done to see how well wastewater treatment plants are removing illicit drugs from sludge before treated water is released into the environment. But until now, no study in the U.S. had looked at this, likely leading to underestimates of abuse.”

To gather data for their study — which was funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Kannan and Subedi examined illegal drug levels at two wastewater treatment plants in Albany, New York. The scientists reported finding cocaine in 93 percent of all untreated samples.

….but there are larger issues here as well — constitutional issues. Will police or federal agencies be required to obtain a search warrant before testing sewage? Or will this monitoring be permitted in the name of public safety?

Does a person have a right to biological privacy, and if so, does that right to biological privacy exist only in the moments before you flush your toilet?

By J. D. Heyes – Natural News –

Sheriffs Plan Massive Opposition to Obama’s Executive Amnesty

In light of Barack Obama’s defiance to institute amnesty to tens of millions of illegal aliens in America, following his public spanking on Tuesday, constitutional sheriffs from across America are planning a massive meeting in Washington to oppose his usurpation of power.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson sent out a letter recently which called on sheriffs to descend on Washington on December 10 to meet with congressmen and encourage them to secure the border and oppose Obama’s executive action regarding amnesty. The meeting will occur just days before the existing government funding bill expires.

“Never before in our nation’s history has it been so important for the American sheriffs to stand united and speak with one voice to secure our nation’s borders,” Hodgson wrote. “No longer can we sit idle while the inaction of our Federal Government marginalizes our ability to preserve public safety, enforce our laws, and protect the Constitutional rights of all who legitimately reside and work in our communities.”

“As a fellow Sheriff, and someone who shares a common mission and obligation to defend the public safety and national security concerns of our citizens, I am respectfully asking that you join me and our brother and sister Sheriffs on December 10, 2014 in [sic] at the United States Capitol to encourage immediate action by Congress and the Administration to pass legislation that will secure border security once and for all,” he added.

By Tim Brown – FreedomOutpost.com –