Mark Herring, a Democrat, is the Attorney General of Virginia. Like Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, Herring found it amusing to wear black face. He did so at a party in 1980.
Herring still doesn’t have much appreciation for civil rights. He’s defending Virginia social distancing policies that led to the pastor of a Virginia church being cited for holding a church service. There were sixteen people in the church sanctuary, which seats 225. The congregation in question serves, among others, recovering drug addicts and former prostitutes.
The church sought legal relief. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division filed a statement of interest, arguing that the Virginia polices at issue may constitute a violation of the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
Herring’s office responded with this imbecilic statement:
Donald Trump and Bill Barr should focus on saving lives and ramping up testing, not teaming up with conservative activists to undermine effective public health measures that are slowing the spread of covid-19 and saving lives in Virginia and around the country.
It’s not the job of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division to “ramp up testing” for the Wuhan coronavirus. The Civil Rights Division’s job is to protect against unlawful discrimination, including unlawful discrimination against the right to freedom of religious worship.
It’s not surprising that Herring, who once got his kicks mocking African-Americans, fails to understand the role of the Civil Rights Division. Nor is it unsurprising that he has little regard for the rights of modern America’s most unfashionable minority group — people who take religion very seriously.
Instead of taking the mindless way out — attacking President Trump and incanting the words “saving lives” — Herring should explain how anyone’s life is endangered by a religious service for sixteen people in a sanctuary that holds 225.
When he’s finished trying to explain that, Herring should tell us why a meeting of sixteen lawyers in a conference room — an event Virginia permits — doesn’t put lives at the same or greater risk.
It’s sad that Northam and Herring place the interest of lawyers in making a buck ahead of the right of devout believers — including recovering addicts and former prostitutes — to attend religious services. But as I said, it’s not surprising.