Sunday, February 14, 2016

Virginia: Ronoake Times Editorial Opposes Montgomery County Clerk Recall Trial attempt

More on the Erica Williams Recall trial attempt:

In terms of anti-recall editorials, this one is among the best, primarily for the practical considerations in second reason listed.
Williams is a Democrat; a leader in the Montgomery County Republican Party is leading a petition drive to initiate a court review. Virginia doesn’t have recall elections like some states do, but there is a rarely-used provision for a judge to remove an elected official. This petition drive is a fundamentally bad idea for two reasons, and not just because it smacks of political opportunism.

The first is philosophical: Democracy is not well-served if election results can be overturned; we need to give elected officials time to make even unpopular decisions that might play out well in the end. We set terms for a reason.

The second is legal: Unlike other states, Virginia properly sets a high bar for removing someone from office. The key language here is “for neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.” That is plainly not the case here. Williams may have made what to many is an unpopular decision, but deeds are still being filed, marriage licenses still being issued. This is ultimately a political dispute that ought to be settled in the political realm, which means the voting booth. That’s not a satisfying answer to opponents because eight years is a long time to wait, but life is often unfair.

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