Virginia bill would criminalize criticism of governor and associates

Submitted by Freedomman on Wed, 01/29/2020 - 21:29

RICHMOND, Virginia (PNN) - January 24, 2020 - It’s another day, another crazy proposed bill in Virginia. While the State has been making headlines for its assault on the Second Amendment, that’s hardly the only bullet point on its agenda.

The State doesn’t have much respect for the Second Amendment, and we’re about to see if its attitude is the same towards the First. Bill HB 1627 is titled Threats and harassment of certain officials and property; venue, and was introduced by Democrat Jeffrey M. Bourne on January 16.

HB 1627’s summary as introduced reads, [The bill] Provides that certain crimes relating to threats and harassment may be prosecuted in the City of Richmond if the victim is the Governor, Governor-elect, Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant Governor-elect, Attorney General, or Attorney General-elect, a member or employee of the General Assembly, a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, or a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia. In addition, threats to damage property may be prosecuted in the City of Richmond if the property is owned by the Commonwealth and located in the Capitol District.

The bar for harassment is already as low as “vulgar language” in Virginia’s code 18.2-152.7:1: If any person, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass any person, shall use a computer or computer network to communicate obscene, vulgar, profane, lewd, lascivious, or indecent language, or make any suggestion or proposal of an obscene nature, or threaten any illegal or immoral act, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Bourne’s bill proposes adding the following amendment: A violation of this section may be prosecuted in the jurisdiction in which the communication was made or received or in the City of Richmond if the person subjected to the act is one of the following officials or employees of the Commonwealth: the Governor, Governor-elect, Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant Governor-elect, Attorney General, or Attorney General-elect, a member or employee of the General Assembly, a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, or a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Bourne’s Bill also changes the language of “he shall be guilty” to “he is guilty” of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

It’s insane that a bill defining harassment so vaguely is already on the books in Virginia, and it’s even more insane that someone is proposing expanding it so that politicians can legally intimidate their detractors with ease.

This is just the latest in a slew of questionable bills to be introduced in Virginia. Among the others on the agenda:

  • No Photo ID to Vote - SB 65: Removes the requirement that voters show a form of identification containing a photograph in order to be allowed to vote.
  • Making Electoral College Votes Go to the Popular Vote Winner - SB 399 - Enters Virginia into an interstate compact known as the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Voting Rights for Felons - SJ14 - Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by general law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of a felony.
  • Doubling the Governor’s Term Limit - SJ6 - Permits a governor elected in 2025 and thereafter to succeed himself in office. The amendment allows two four-year terms (either in succession or not in succession) but prohibits election to a third term. Service for more than two years of a partial term counts as service for one term.

That’s just to name a few.