Press Club

The Right Note: Follow the Law

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Mark Kelly

The County Board last week approved a resolution calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation giving driver’s licenses to illegal or undocumented immigrants.

Merits aside, this is another in a long line of resolutions the Board has passed calling for another legislative body to act. The General Assembly in Richmond often pays little heed to such things the Arlington County Board has to say. In fact, one could argue that the Board’s support might actually hurt the chances of legislation passing in the far more conservative legislature.

But some have suggested Governor McAuliffe could go it alone on this issue.

Certainly, lack of action by the legislature, or specific authority under the Virginia Constitution, has not stopped Governor McAuliffe or Attorney General Herring from acting before. But if Governor McAuliffe is considering creating new administrative powers out of thin air to issue licenses by executive action, he should think again.

The blanket restoration of voting rights, which Governors Kaine and McDonnell said was not an authority granted to them, has proven to be ill-conceived at best. Even the Virginia Supreme Court has granted an expedited hearing on July 19th in order to determine whether McAuliffe acted properly.

In the meantime, story after story is emerging about individuals who wrongly had their rights restored. And only time will tell just how badly the administration of this decision was bungled.

Unfortunately, our Governor and other leading Democrats seem perfectly fine with using authoritarian and undemocratic means to achieve their goals. Ironically, it is often done in the name of our rights.

It should not matter whether you agree with the end goals or not. When anyone elected to lead our government does an end run of the law to get to a desired result, it erodes the protections afforded to us by our system of government.

No, the legislative process is not perfect. However, it is the system we are supposed to be living under. And we should all be grateful. It also protects us from a future Republican governor who wants to create new laws without any statutory or constitutional power to do so.

Mark Kelly is the chairman of the 8th District Republican Committee, a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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