Spent eight hours at the Court House today listening to arguments over the constitutionality of the Commonwealth of Virginia Division Statute 57-9. The judge permitted everyone to talk as long as they wanted. It was clear he came with his own series of questions, having read the briefs in detail and he questioned each of the council who testified closely, often quite closely, including the Solicitor General of the Commonwealth of Virginia who was there to defend the statute.
There were three lawyers representing the Diocese of Virginia, the Episcopal Church, and the amici participants. The CANA churches were represented by one lawyer, a constitutional lawyer who remarkably stayed on course throughout the proceedings.
The courtroom was packed as the arguments began. Bishop David Jones of the Diocese of Virginia was there and Bishop David Bena of CANA/Anglican District of Virginia was there. It was clear by the time that the day was over that the same logic used at General Convention and the same audacious reinvention of the meaning of words continues to be the strategy employed by The Episcopal Church, even in a court of law. They also engaged in what I might call the Jackson Pollock Approach to Legal Arguments. Just keep flinging that paint until everything – and everyone – is covered.
At one point toward the end, the amici counsel sniffed that our votes were just random “drawing straws and flipping coins.” Oh. The offhand dismissal of something as democratically enshrined as voting one’s conscience – whether you agree with it or not – as “drawing straws and flipping coins” shows a rather breathtaking contempt for the laity’s ability to choose and a blatant disregard for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
It follows the same kind of thinking as we heard recently from the Presiding Bishop at her media conference at 815. Perhaps the only votes that matter are the votes that go your way?
The judge will rule soon on the constitutionality of the statute. Stay tuned.