Tuesday, January 25, 2011


A Tea Party-affiliated Republican is making Virginia ripe for a Tucson-style or Tech-type shooting. State Senator Bill Stanley has introduced a bill to protect Virginia Tech President Charles Steger and former school Executive Vice President James Hyatt from lawsuits. The issue is sovereign immunity.

Stanley wants special privileges for the two men—an immediate appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court over earlier lower-court rulings. (Special privileges for two men—can all Virginians get that?) The senator’s action follows the Department of Education’s finding that Tech broke the law on April 16, 2007 in not warning the campus, and a judges ruling that there is enough evidence of gross negligence for a lawsuit against Steger and Hyatt to go forward.

Steger and Hyatt lost three previous lower court appeals in which they claimed sovereign immunity. The last loss opened the door for the lawsuit by the Pryde and Peterson families to go forward. Having exhausted all legal options, Senator Stanley has tailored a bill to protect the two men. Under Senate Bill Number 1381, the two would be granted an immediate and automatic appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The lawsuit is absolutely essential to holding people accountable for their actions. Virginia can spend millions on school security systems, but if the people in charge are negligent, the money is a complete waste. Without accountability, there can be no safety.

Stanley’s bill also has an implied threat. In Virginia, judges are elected by the legislature. Stanley seems to be saying to the Virginia Supreme Court justices, “Play ball with me, if you want to keep your job. If you don’t, I will organize the Tea Party against you.”

Corruption in the Tea Party appears to be as bad or worse than anything involving the Republicans or Democrats.

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