First Amendment Update

We have more on the bill that is meant to prevent outrageous actions such as those in Gloucester County, where petitioners who were trying to oust supervisors from office, as is their legal right. From the RTD: 

A judge’s order requiring a citizens group to pay attorney fees for four Gloucester County supervisors they tried to remove from office has prompted legislation to prohibit such sanctions in the future.

The 40 members of Gloucester County Citizens for Accountable Representation were stunned last month when the judge who dismissed the petitions ordered them to pay $2,000 each toward the targeted supervisors’ nearly $130,000 in legal fees. The balance will be paid by the county’s taxpayers.

The residents claim they were exercising their constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances in seeking the removal of four county board members who were indicted on charges of misusing their office by meeting in secret. The indictment was dismissed, then the petitions.

The article also points out a fact that makes this bill even more important:

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states have recall provisions that allow voters to remove officials from office for purely political reasons — but Virginia is not among them. A recall procedure is essentially a second election demanded by voters before the official’s term ends.

Without a recall election, petitioning is the only means that citizens have to react to wrongdoing by their elected officials. While petitions may be frivolous at times (or be impossible to act upon due to judicial connections), it is a fundamental right, and should be protected as such.

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