Last edited: February 14, 2005

Virginia GOP Denies Askew Seat

The Data Lounge, January 27, 2003

RICHMOND, Va.—Republican legislators in Virginia concluded late last week that Circuit Court Judge Verbena Askew apparently lied about advances she made toward a female administrator in her Virginia courthouse and threw her off the bench.

A scathing commentary published in the Washington Post details how with "heavy hearts, genuine tears and barely concealed glee" conservative lawmakers denied her reappointment as a Circuit Court judge in Newport News, Virginia.

The newspaper characterized the machinations of the General Assembly’s confirmation hearing on Askew as "Let’s Hear Juicy Bits About Lesbians Week." The lawmakers subjected Askew to a seven-hour hearing last week that barely touched on her performance on the bench but was rife with lurid speculation about her love life.

Kenneth Stolle, chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, told the Post there would have been no interest in debating Askew’s reappointment had it not been for sexual harassment allegations, that were long ago settled out of court. "No," Stolle replied. "This came to us because there was a sexual harassment complaint and as part of an effort to cover that up, the judge did a number of things she shouldn’t have done."

The Virginia chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans joined Democrats across the state in condemning the behavior of the judiciary committee and called on the chairman of the House courts committee, Del. Robert McDonnell to resign for his "selective and vindictive use" of the anti-sodomy statutes.

Del. Dwight Clinton Jones accused Republicans of engaging in "sexual and racial innuendo" to discredit Askew. "I tremble when I think that a judge whom we appointed was summoned before us in a process that has all the markings of a prosecution," he said. "I tremble when persons elected to positions of power use that power to drag a sitting judge through a public inquisition more worthy of another place, another time, another form of government."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports 61 judges have come before the General Assembly for reappointment and only three—all women who ruled favorably in cases involving lesbian rights—have been singled out by the GOP majority.

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