In Washington state, voters defeated I-330, a doctor-backed plan to limit medical malpractice awards and lawyers’ fees, by about a 54-46 margin, while also drubbing I-336. a lawyer-backed alternative (Seattle P-I, Seattle Times). California voters trounced, by a 61-39 margin, Proposition 79, which would have regulated drug prices via freelance lawsuits among other means; they defeated Proposition 78, a drug-industry-backed alternative, by nearly as wide a margin. (L.A. Times, Sacramento Bee). In Virginia, former Richmond mayor and Democrat Tim Kaine, who had been criticized by the American Justice Partnership (Nov. 2), won the governorship anyway (Wash. Post). Texas voters easily passed an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment that Houston attorney Warren Cole, chairman of the State Bar of Texas’ family law section, called “horribly drafted” and which would prohibit the recognition of any “legal status” that is “similar to marriage” (more from Cathy Young)(see yesterday’s post) (Dallas Morning News) (cross-posted at Point of Law).
More developments regarding Virginia’s antigay law, much criticized in this space (see May 31 and links from there): the state’s Attorney General, Jerry Kilgore, has put forth an opinion (which of course does not bind the courts) construing the statute narrowly so as not to restrict persons of the same sex from entering private contractual arrangements that convey any “rights or privileges not exclusive to the institution of marriage”. (“The law”, Style Weekly (Richmond magazine), Jun. 30; Lisa Provence, “Not gay: Marriage affirmation sparks protests”, The Hook (Charlottesville), Jul. 17; Adrian Brune, “ACLU to challenge Va. union ban”, Washington Blade, Jul. 16). The law is already being cited by some attorneys as reasons why persons in Virginia should be considered free to disregard not merely civil unions, but even court orders arising out of such unions, originating in other states. Attorneys for Lisa Miller-Jenkins, who recently moved to Virginia from Vermont after the breakup of a civil union in the latter state, are citing the Virginia law to justify their client’s reported refusal to comply with a two-month-old Vermont court order awarding her former partner, Janet Miller-Jenkins, rights to visit the daughter born to Lisa during their time together. “State law forbids Virginia courts from handling legal custody and parental rights disputes if proceedings are already under way in another state.” (Calvin R. Trice, “It’s Virginia vs. Vermont in custody case”, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aug. 14; Justin Bergman, “Judge delays ruling on jurisdiction in lesbian custody battle”, Newport News Daily Press, Aug. 13; Jonathan Finer, “Custody Case Puts Lesbian Civil Union On Trial”, Washington Post/National Constitution Center, Aug. 7)(via Tim Hulsey). And some gay residents of the Dominion have reacted to the law by deciding to move away. Update Aug. 25: Va. judge takes jurisdiction of custody case notwithstanding court order (Washington Post). More background on case: Washington Blade, Aug. 20. Further updates Dec. 16 (I challenge conservative commentator David Frum’s description of the case); Aug. 26, 2006 (Vermont Supreme Court rules against Miller); Nov. 29, 2006 (Virginia appeals panel, reversing lower court, rules against Miller).
Yesterday at 3:15 p.m. EST I was a guest on Michael Graham’s talk show on WRVA, Richmond, Va., to discuss money laundering regulations and the latest controversy to assail radio host Rush Limbaugh (I wrote about the general subject of money laundering law in 1999 for Reason). And tomorrow morning at 8:35 a.m. CST I’ll be a guest on Oklahoma City’s WKY radio morning program.
I’ll be a guest on HearSay with Cathy Lewis on Hampton Roads, Va.’s NPR affiliate today just after noon (around 12:10 p.m. EST), discussing this site and the issue of personal responsibility. You can tune in live via WHRO/WHRV’s website. Also check out our archive of personal responsibility items.