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Video: Senate Republicans Nominate Stephen R. McCullough, NOT Ken Cuccinelli, to Virginia Supreme Court


After a loooong meeting of the Senate Republicans, they apparently have settled on yet ANOTHER person to nominate for the Virginia Supreme Court — Judge Stephen R. McCullough of the Virginia Court of Appeals. They have deleted the name of Rossie Alston from the amendment. Also, no sign of Ken Cuccinelli. Fascinating.

UPDATE #1: The Richmond Times-Dispatch says that Cuccinelli “took himself out of the running.” If so, that’s very smart on his part, as he kept his political options open and didn’t fall into Ed Gillespie’s wily trap. LOL Or it could be that Vogel, Reeves, or some other Republican said “no,” and that they’re just saying Cooch “took himself out of the running” to save face all around.

UPDATE #2: McCullough was evaluated by the Virginia State Bar, along with 8 other candidates (Thomas W. Aldous, Jr., W. Coleman Allen, Jr., The Honorable Rossie D. Alston, The Honorable Randolph A. Beales, L. Steven Emmert, The Honorable Mary Jane Hall, The Honorable D. Arthur Kelsey, Christy A. McCormick) for the Virginia Supreme Court. McCullough was rated as “qualified” by a vote of 11-5, which is VERY striking given that the other candidates all received unanimous votes or a 15-1 vote in one case. So…McCullough was the lowest rating of those evaluated. Hmmm.

As for McCullough’s resume, here are the highlights: 1) received his law degree from the University of Richmond in 1997; 2) served as Law Clerk, Justice Leroy R. Hassell, Sr., Supreme Court of Virginia, 1997-99; Office of the Attorney General, 1999-2011 (Assistant Attorney General, 1999-2006; Deputy State Solicitor General, 2006-08; State Solicitor General, 2008-10; Senior Appellate Counsel/opinions counsel, 2010-11); 3) currently serves on the Court of Appeals of Virginia; 4) his evaluation states, “Judge McCullough is doing an excellent job on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. He fits in well with the other judges on the Court of Appeals. At the interview, Judge McCullough presented as bright, articulate, and witty.” Oh, he also “authored entries for Justice Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas.”

I found a piece he wrote, A VANISHING VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION?, which argues: “Some of the most important protections embodied in the Virginia Constitution should not be relegated to irrelevance by sweeping declarations that they are co-extensive with provisions found in the United States Constitution.”


UPDATE #3:  Virginia Attorney Dan Press sums it up on Facebook — “A little quick research establishes that the guy is dangerous. He was Kook-inelli’s and McDonnell’s Solicitor General, advancing their far right agenda in the State and Federal appellate and Supreme Courts. For example, he led the State’s anti-Obamacare legal team (that left us without mandatory Medicaid expansion and the mess we have now with the working poor being unable to get coverage). He worked on efforts to block the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations. He attempted to undermine the confrontation clause. He needs to be stopped.”


  • From Sen. Adam Ebbin:

    We did it!

    In less than 24 hours we received over 1,000 petition signatures to keep Ken Cuccinelli off the Supreme Court of Virginia. Thanks to your efforts, Senate Republicans have withdrawn Cuccinelli’s name from consideration for the vacancy on the high court.

    Keeping Cuccinelli off the Supreme Court is a huge victory for women, the LGBT community, and everyone who recognizes the urgency of addressing climate change. Petitions, emails and calls helped Republicans realize how misguided their political machinations were.

    I will continue to fight and advocate on your behalf to select a jurist who is not only in line with the views of mainstream Virginians, but also someone who is truly well-qualified and won’t politicize our state’s highest court. Justice Jane Roush is that candidate, and Democrats will continue standing united to get Justice Roush her seat back on the court and serve a full term.

    The message we sent today is clear: we will not stand by and allow a biased activist and extremist to be seated on Virginia’s Supreme Court.

    Thank you for standing with me to #KeepKenOut.

    Adam P. Ebbin


    RICHMOND — Speaking on behalf of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) made the following remarks this afternoon about the withdrawal of former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s name from consideration for the vacancy on the Supreme Court of Virginia:

    “Ken Cuccinelli was never right for the Supreme Court. My Democratic colleagues and I have been proud to stand with the citizens and activists who called their representatives and rallied at the Capitol this morning. Together, we forced Republicans to back down. Thank you, all of you, for everything you have done in these last twenty-four hours.

    “Unfortunately, the GOP’s new candidate is also deeply flawed. In 2014, the State Bar found Judge Stephen McCullough least qualified among six candidates for a previous Supreme Court vacancy. McCullough served as Ken Cuccinelli’s advisor and lieutenant while his office pushed TRAP and other partisan crusades. He is of a piece with his former boss, and equally ill-suited to a place on our highest court.

    “Jane Roush has already served honorably on the Supreme Court. Many of my Republican colleagues have praised her leadership and years of service; indeed, some of them have voted to confirm her. Instead of ramming through a last-minute partisan candidate in a rushed and opaque manner, we need to return this dedicated public servant to her proper place on the Court.”

  • Quizzical


  • Statement by Democratic 2015 Virginia State Senate candidate Emily Francis (note: she ran, and unfortunately didn’t win, in a three-way primary for the seat currently held by Republican State Sen. Glen Sturtevant):

    “I’m very disappointed in Senator Sturtevant’s actions this week. A 180 degree flip from ‘politics should not play a role in choosing judges’ to supporting a political lightning rod of a candidate –Cuccinelli — as a potential political ploy. It’s disappointing behavior. “

  • DPVA Statement on Virginia Republicans’ Supreme Court Saga

    The Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) Chairwoman Susan Swecker released the following statement when it was announce that Ken Cuccinelli was no longer considered for placement on Virginia’s Supreme Court:

    “Today Tommy Norment and Republicans in the General Assembly fumbled through another ham-handed attempt to shove a justice through two chambers that they control. The Cuccinelli chapter of this saga illustrates the extreme depths to which Republicans will sink to remove a qualified justice from the bench, as well as how ill-equipped they are to actually govern this Commonwealth.

    “By nominating Cuccinelli before they even called him, then swiftly reversing course after the predictable public backlash to their anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-education, anti-environment candidate, Republicans cast a brighter light on their own extreme dysfunction and energized Democratic voters who will be important to our party this November.

    “We’re proud of the thousands of calls, emails, and robust social media campaign that the DPVA helped generate to keep Cuccinelli out of Virginia’s Supreme Court, but there’s still work to be done as long as Republicans continue to approach our Commonwealth’s judicial system like petulant children.”

  • Kindler

    Two comments:

    – Any chance Republicans suggested Cuccinelli in order to make every other candidate sound like a relief by comparison?
    – The evaluation you cited –“Judge McCullough is doing an excellent job on the Court of Appeals of Virginia. He fits in well with the other judges on the Court of Appeals.” — sounds totally like a kindergarten report card to me…

    • It’s possible they threw Cooch’s name out there for that reason or other reasons, I just don’t know at this point. And yeah, that evaluation brought back memories… 😉

  • From the Virginia House Democratic Caucus:

    A Botched Process from Beginning to End

    RICHMOND, Va.: Today, Stephen R. McCullough was elected to the Virginia Supreme Court. McCullough’s election brings to an end a drawn-out, botched judicial process that has exposed the kind of back-door politics and nasty rhetoric on which the Republican-led legislature runs.

    McCullough’s nomination on the Senate floor broke Senate rules by being offered as a floor amendment to an existing resolution, as opposed to being introduced in a new resolution. This forced both houses of the legislature to vote on a candidate that could not be properly vetted in Committees. Senators and Delegates were given less than 24 hours to review his qualifications and fitness for the bench.

    “From the very beginning, Republican leadership has focused on denying a qualified Justice, Jane Roush, from keeping her seat on the Supreme Court,” said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. “At the last minute, they proposed a candidate that had a 15 minute hearing and did not receive the vetting that occurred for Justice Roush. This process has been political from the start, and does a disservice to the judicial selection process and the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

    “It is unfortunate that our colleagues across the aisle decided to nominate yet another gentleman to fill a seat that was held by an imminently qualified Justice,” said Charniele Herring, Democratic Caucus Chair. “It is not about their new candidates, it is about Republicans playing partisan politics with our judicial system.”