Chase resolution passed despite opposition from some Republicans on the committee
RICHMOND-Does Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase deserve to be censured? That’s now up to the Virginia Senate to decide. Members of the body’s Elections Committee reported the resolution by a majority vote Tuesday, sending it to the floor for a discussion.
“For me, the need to protect this body compelled me to move forward,” said Sen. John Bell. “For me, this is an issue of right and wrong.”
Bell wrote and filed the resolution calling for Chase’s censure. As of Tuesday, nine of his colleagues had signed on as co-patrons. He said Chase put the integrity and honor of the General Assembly at risk with her recent actions.
“I served in the U.S. military for almost 25 years,” Bell said. “When I saw [the] Capitol attacked, it was one of the most horrific things I’ve seen in my life.”
The retired U.S. Air Force officer said the case comes down to three questions. First, did an insurrection against the United States take place Jan. 6? Of that, everyone can confirm. Second, did Chase play a role in inciting the insurrection, as by her own words, she spoke to people gathered before President Donald Trump’s rally that morning. Third, was Chase’s conduct unbecoming for a Virginia senator?
Bell says that yes, Chase has freedom of speech, however he points out freedom of speech is not absolute. You have the ability to say what you want, but that doesn’t protect you from the consequences of what you say.
Virginia’s History With Censure
If Chase is censured by the Senate this week, she’ll join a very exclusive club. Virginia’s only reported five censureships since the Commonwealth came into existence. That included four between 1796 and 1926. Then you had one more in 1987, when the Senate censured Peter Babalas for a financial conflict of interest.
A censure is basically a formal statement of disapproval. There are no penalties, no one is removed from office. It’s just a document saying at least a majority of the group disagree with your actions.
The alternative is what’s called expelling. In order to make that happen, however, you need a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate. Unsure if enough lawmakers would support that option, Bell went with the censure.
Laying out the case on Tuesday, Bell pointed to the videos Chase created on Jan. 6.
In a Facebook video, Chase said “I support peaceful protests but I’m telling you when you back people in Virginia and across the United States of America into a corner, you end up with a revolution. And I believe that’s what you’re starting to see.”
Bell also cites this quote from another of Chase’s Facebook videos on Jan. 6. She said “whenever a government comes after your constitutional rights, we have every right and reason to resist. When you back good people, law-abiding citizens into a corner, they will push back when you give them no other options. When you cheat them of their elections, when you take away their constitutional rights and freedoms, you’re backing patriots like myself into a corner.”
Comments like those, Bell said, prove her intent and support of the insurrection.
Speaking in Opposition
Not everyone on the Elections Committee was in favor of the resolution. Sen. Bryce Reeves said while he didn’t support Chase, he felt this was an issue of free speech.
“We have moved from freedom of speech to freedom from speech,” Reeves said. “[This] runs counter to my sworn oath. It tries to condemn someone for free speech.”
Reeves said while he doesn’t support what Chase said, he won’t censure her. Referencing Titus 3:10 from the Bible, he read the scripture verse. It says “warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”
He suggested the Senate do the same when it comes to Chase.
Chase didn’t appear before the committee herself. Instead, she called in, asking that the resolution go by for the day. She told staff members she wasn’t prepared to present her case. The majority rejected that request, saying she could present her case before the full Senate. With Reeves and other Republicans rejecting, the group reported the resolution to the overall Senate. A specific date and time for that discussion hasn’t been announced yet.
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].