Delegate Bob Marshall's Statement on Judicial Appointee Tracy-Thorne Begland

STATEMENT OF: Delegate Bob Marshall (R., Manassas)

SUBJECT: Rejection of Tracy Thorne-Begland’s Judicial Nomination

DATE: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Virginia House of Delegates has properly rejected the selection of Tracy Thorne-Begland as a candidate for a judgeship.

A state judge has a critically important role in our state and our society. When we go into court, we must know that the judge who decides our case wants to preserve the rule of law by finding the law in our constitutions, statutes, and prior decisions of the court.  We do not need more judges who want to use their position to remake the law in their own image. We must know that the person who embodies the authority of the Commonwealth in that courtroom has a judicial temperament – is an impartial decision maker. Particularly in District Court, where there is no right to jury trial, we must trust the judge to weigh the evidence impartially and render justice under law.  Under our system, the advocates in that courtroom are the lawyers, but never the judge.

Tracy Thorne-Begland is a nationally known advocate of homosexual rights, working with and leading groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Virginia, whose life's passion it is to change the law.  He has been quoted as being critical of the judicial system in Virginia for hostility to homosexual rights. There was widespread doubt in the General Assembly as to whether this candidate could swear the oath required of Virginia’s judges to abide by Virginia’s Constitution since he profoundly disagrees with the Virginia Marriage Amendment “that only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth.”

In 2006, when Virginians overwhelmingly amended our Virginia Constitution to add the Virginia Marriage Amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman, that amendment became the law of the land.  But this applicant does not accept the authority of the people in whom are vested the sole power to amend our Virginia Constitution, as he holds himself out to be married to a person of his own sex.

The House of Delegates vote was a decision that was forced upon the General Assembly when I was unable to persuade my colleagues privately to remove this candidate from the list.  At that point, the public battle became inevitable. I did not seek this battle, but neither did I shrink from it.


Delegate Bob Marshall's contact information: Mobile telephone – (703) 853-4213 Capitol telephone – (804) 698-1013 (during General Assembly sessions) E-mail addresses –