Compare and contrast Bob McDonnell and John Brownlee on Brownlee’s “moral test” of legislation.

Sorry to rehash, but so the quote is fresh in the minds of everyone, from Virginia Lawyers Weekly:

Brownlee also set himself apart from the other candidates with a comment about how he would judge the constitutionality of a law passed by the General Assembly. While Cuccinelli and Foster pledged to apply a strict constitutional test, without regard to personal feeling, Brownlee said he would add a “moral test” to the equation.

“As attorney general, I would represent the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. So I would add that second layer, that second tier,” he said.

Brownlee’s moral filter is “an entirely new conception of the AG’s role in Virginia” commented Virginia Commonwealth University political science professor Robert Holsworth on his blog, Virginia Tomorrow. Holsworth, who attended the debate, suggested that Brownlee’s comment leaves him open to criticism often aimed at liberals – that he would impose personal views in place of a strict interpretation of constitutional language.[1]

Here’s what Bob McDonnell had to say in a live-blog Q&A with Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato. First the question:

Question: Mr. Attorney General, to the extent that you continue to participate (and have made it this far down the thread), thank you for again entering the blogosphere. My question:

Is it your policy to defend against ALL challenges to the acts of the General Assembly, and, if so, how do you ensure zealous advocacy of those positions with which you personally disagree and may consider not only bad but also potentially dangerous?

Thank you for participating.

– J.Sarge

And McDonnell’s response:

Answer: That is an excellent question, and I thank you for asking it. My job as Attorney General is to defend the statutes of Virginia from attack against claims of unconstitutionality or other legal actions. As such, I make no judgement on the law based on how I may have voted in the General Assembly. We are currently defending statutes in court based solely on the law, and applicable legal principles not personal philosophies.

Pretty amazing that Brownlee is proposing something that is in such contrast with the philosophies of the person at the head of the Republican ticket this year, no?

  1. Peter Vieth. “Three GOP candidates for Virginia AG spar in Roanoke.” Virginia Lawyers Weekly. 23 Feb. 2009. LexisNexis. []

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