Former Gov. (and former Attorney General) Gerald Baliles refutes Ken Cuccinelli’s legal reasoning on whether Virginia colleges and universities can protect gay students, professors, etc. from discrimination.
The Attorney General’s opinion, in my judgment, erroneously attempts to place colleges and universities into the same category as “local governments,” and therefore, subject to the Dillon Rule’s requirement of operating only within specific enumerated grants of power from the General Assembly.
For years – decades, even –public colleges and universities have operated pursuant to their “own charters.” In the Educational Institutions title of the Virginia Code, the specific statutes creating the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities, and amended over the years, including recent restructuring legislation, grant very broad powers to presidents and boards of visitors to “make all needful rules and regulations” concerning their operations and to “generally direct the affairs of their institutions.” Thus, unless the General Assembly affirmatively revokes such powers, Virginia’s public colleges and universities may continue to engage in adopting rules and regulations necessary to their operations, including standards of conduct.
In short, we have an Attorney General who, aside from being a raging homophobe, is also ignorant of Virginia law. Great combination, huh?
UPDATE #1: The Alexandria City Council weighs in.
UPDATE #2: Cuccinelli makes a couple of claims that are almost certainly not true. First, Cooch that nobody disagrees with his legal reasoning. On this point, see Baliles’ opinion above. Second, Cooch repeatedly claims that his office was just answering a question, and that there’s no political motivation or anything else in this. The problem is, at least as far as I know, Cooch’s office hasn’t provided any evidence that it received a request on this subject. If so, I’d love to hear who made that “request,” but barring any evidence, my assumption is that Cooch undertook all this on his own initiative.