A Libertarian Defense of Delegate Bob Marshall

Lately, there has been a dangerous trend in this country to limit free speech, with calls for representatives to resign and administrative officials to be removed from office. The latest example of this is occurring in Virginia after Republican Delegate Bob Marshall made a statement against the state funding of Planned Parenthood. The transcript of his discussion had religious connotations that some have called ‘hate speech’ and there are calls for his resignation.

Mr. Bob Marshall was quoted as saying that the “number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically…Because when you abort the first-born of any, Nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first-born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest, and with the knowledge they have from faith has been verified by a study by the Virginia Commonwealth University. First abortions of the first pregnancy are much more damaging to the woman than latter abortions.”

Mr. Marshall is now under fire from his own political party, with Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell taking a shot at the delegate, calling the delegate’s words offensive and wrong. For a political party that beats its chest about supporting the Constitution, there seems to be a sudden lack of consideration for the 1st Amendment and Mr. Marshall’s right to free speech. The delegate identifies himself as a devout Catholic, and so his faith is going to shape his thoughts and beliefs. There are plenty of analogies in the bible of God punishing individuals and civilizations for not following the bible’s guidelines. In addition to his religious views, Mr. Marshall also cites scientific data from Virginia Commonwealth University which has influenced his opinion. For Delegate Marshall to change his belief and thoughts on abortion when it comes to his personal studies and experiences is akin to asking him to toss away a portion of his own self-identity. This is why freedom of speech is so important, because it is connected to individualism as well as healthy political dialogue. Instead of lampooning free speech, Governor McDonnell would have done us a better service by quoting Voltaire as I would have done, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

If Delegate Bob Marshall attempts to force his morality onto the population through legislation then it would be time for us to speak out against him. However, his fight against the state funding of Planned Parenthood should be supported. The government forces taxpayers to participate in government-sponsored population control. Taxpayers can decide to help change the laws that use their money to fund programs they are morally against, accept this state of affairs, or stop paying taxes and go to jail. Legislative change is the only logical recourse to those who wish to object the usage of their taxpaying dollars.

Finally, I’m more concerned with a politician’s legislative record than his recorded transcripts. Recently, Delegate Bob Marshall pushed a bill to support states rights in regards to a takeover of health care by the Federal government. This bill is called HB-10, the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act (VHFA), and it states that “No law shall restrict an individual’s natural right and power of contract liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans.”

Instead of taking his time to lampoon supporters of my natural rights, I’d rather see Governor McDonnell support Delegate Bob Marshall’s right to free speech and HB-10 legislation. While he is at it, the governor could also push his party hard to pass Democratic delegate Ward Armstrong’s HB-651 and HB-652, which gives the individual greater protection from eminent domain. Our representatives must aggressively restore individual rights, rather than actively denying them.

James Quigley
– Chair of the Peninsula Libertarian Party (vplp.org)
– Libertarian collecting petitions to appear on the ballot for the 3rd Congressional District
of Virginia (jamesquigley4congress.com; jamesquigley4congress@gmail.com)


10 Responses to A Libertarian Defense of Delegate Bob Marshall

  1. Johnny Clamboat says:

    “Lately, there has been a dangerous trend in this country to limit free speech, with calls for representatives to resign and administrative officials to be removed from office.”

    “Mr. Marshall is now under fire from his own political party, with Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell taking a shot at the delegate, calling the delegate’s words offensive and wrong. For a political party that beats its chest about supporting the Constitution, there seems to be a sudden lack of consideration for the 1st Amendment and Mr. Marshall’s right to free speech.”

    How does criticizing his speech, or calling for him to resign, amount to limiting free speech? That argument refutes itself.

  2. Matt Cholko says:

    I’ve gotta say, Delegate Marshall sounds like a bit of a clown here, but he has every right to do so. I’ve also gotta say, Governor McDonnell has every right to say whatever he wants about Delegate Marshall’s speech. I agree with Clamboat.

    I also agree with the first paragraph of this post, in that the constant calls for elected officials to resign over “controversial” statements is ridiculous.

  3. Britt Howard says:

    Criticism is deserved for the recent comments. The same idea could have been put forth more tactfully. That being that there is medical evidence that first abortions may take a physical/medical toll on future babies. That could be warning taken as the reader saw fit. “Nature taking vengeance”, all the fiery brimstone, and any hint of describing challenged children as punishments, was over the top and to some quite hurtful.

    Suddenly, all the good that Del. Marshall has done is forgotten. Interesting how many parents of children with disadvantages that stridently oppose abortion as Marshall does, now see Marshall as an enemy and call for his resignation. Parents outraged at the suggestion that their children might be a punishment, especially since no abortion was previously carried out, now dismiss his good legislation fighting for insurance coverage of autistic children, etc. due to hurt generated by the statements. They now dismiss other statements that he has made such as:

    “I believe that all children, no matter their background are a blessing from the Lord, not a punishment.”

    Not taking care to wisely choose your words can be costly and throw things into confusion. Your friends may be suddenly conflicted in response. Even organizations that are champions for children with autism that wish to praise Del. Marshall for his efforts have been affected by this.


    I think that the pain felt by parents is understandable, but we human beings are flawed creatures, that at times speak without thinking. We should consider the whole past/present/future of good Del.Marshall’s words and more importantly, actions. We should forgive him for his hurtful choice of wording.

  4. Robert Lawson says:

    A perfect opportunity for the TLP to assert its’ commitment to upholding the right to choose.

  5. Britt Howard says:

    Robert, most Libertarians do seem to be pro-choice, at least traditionally. However, many disenfrachised Republicans have become members of the Libertarian Party.

    Abortion is one of the topics that is almost never discussed. It was never a topic of a meeting that I attended.

    I am not aware of any policy commitment that the TLP has in regard to abortion. Having an abortion at this time is indeed legal. What would be the point of your suggestion?

    I am sure you would agree that you can be pro-choice and still discourage the practice. I would hope that you would also agree that becoming divisive among political allies over a few differences would be counter productive.

    Del. Marshall has been with us on Real ID, against Cap & Trade, against socialized medicine, etc. etc.
    When you agree on a majority of issues, that is what should be focused on.

  6. Robert Lawson says:

    So, the TLP is not going to be libertarian on social issues in order to pander to conservatives? Have they ever considered that there are just as many, if not MORE, liberals looking for a Party that is more sincere toward defending individual liberty than the Democratic Party?

    If that’s the way they feel then what makes them any different from the GOP? Social issues are the big (some would say “only”) thing that differentiates the GOP from LP and if you abandon those issues and refuse to stand for liberty on those issues then what makes the LP and GOP different? Nothing. If the TLP is not going to be libertarian on social issues they should just disband and/or merge with the Republican Party so at least VA libertarians will know beforehand what to expect from them.

  7. Don Tabor says:

    Perhaps when Libertarians have veto proof margins in the General Assembly we can afford to be that picky, but for the time being, we need to support members of the major parties when they act as libertarians and persuade them to change when they don’t.

    Marshall has been good for Liberty on many issues, not so good on others. But how effective could we be in bringing him around on social issues if we did not praise his libertarian votes on those issues with which we are in sync?

    WRT to the abortion issue, the LP is divided on the issue just like the rest of the country. The central question in that issue is at what point is a citizen who enjoys the protection of the rule of law present in utero. While we cannot condone making that determination solely on religious grounds, many of us feel quite strongly that a human life, and thus a citizen, is present some time before birth.

    I think you would find very little support in the LP for third trimester abortions except as a matter of self defense.

  8. Robert Lawson says:

    What you say can also go for liberals. How do you expect to bring liberals around economically unless you praise, and actively support, their libertarian stances on such issues as allowing Gay marriage, and strengthening the seperation of church and state?

    You say ” we need to support members of the major parties when they act as libertarians” but it seems like that only applies to conservatives. There’s hardly a peep uttered for important issues such as gay rights/marriage and that’s one of the biggest issues in the Commonwealth right now. Cuccinelli has already gone after GLBTs, and abortion rights, how long before he’s going after our science and history textbooks a la Texas? To remain silent toward what is happening in Virginia is to acquiesce to the crimes.

  9. Robert Lawson says:

    The plea to “wait” to tackle social issues until a better time rings hollow as well. I’ll let Martin Luther King Jr. speak on that:

    We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

  10. Britt Howard says:

    Robert, once again. Abortion is legal. Therefore what is your point?

    Really, Cuccinelli has done NOTHING to gays. How do I say this? All he did was his job in rendering an opinion on Virginia law. If you had bothered to read expainations he put out later, it was very evident that you could not irrationally discriminate against gays as it stands now. Here merely pointed out the FACTS that only the General Assembly is entitled to form a new “protected class” of people. That did not eliminate the other existing discrimination, wrongful hiring/firing practices that do protect gays as well as others.

    If you want to focus on somebody that has legislated or championed legislation against gays, Gov. Bob McDonnell has a far worse record. It was his strong desire that oral sex remain a felony under the Va. Sodomy law. That law also made straight married couples unconvicted felons as well which really ticked me off personally. Fortunately, the US Supreme Court effectively struck down that law. However, if oral sex is done in a public area, it is my understanding that this is still a career shattering felony. Arrest them and fine them, yes. Sex in public should be against the law. Ruin their lives over sex………simply idiotic.

    Libertarians do differ with Republicans including Cuccinelli and McDonnell when it comes to sexual practices. We don’t think anyone has the right to enforce their own will on what you do with another CONSENTING ADULT HUMAN BEING. (Emphasis for the morons that will bring up the slippery slope argument of bestiality etc., animals etc. are not CONSENTING ADULT HUMANS) You own your body, plain and simple.

    When it comes to “Gay Marriage”, many if not most Libertarians AND many gay people, are against “Gay marriage”. So, I guess even gays agree with the GOP on that. However, we differ on another crucial aspect. Libertarians mostly think that the government should not be in the business of marriage AT ALL. Merely the enforcement of rights, laws, and…..contracts.

    Libertarians insist that homosexuals are people just like everyone else. Therefore, like everyone else, it should be self-evident that gays, like straights, can enter into contracts. We believe two consenting adults should be able to enter into a social contract. We believe, they should be able to act as immediate family in the case that their partner is ill and unable to act on their own behalf. Etc. Etc. I think you get my drift.

    I am willing to work to bring civil unions back. Marriage however, is for the churchs to bless, not the government.

    I do by the way endorse a strong separation between church and state. That separation also protects Christians and SHOULD but often doesn’t, prevent enforced secularization and the brainwashing of the children of Christians in public schools. It is the role of the parent to raise the child, not the government.

    I do admit, many on the religious right, don’t see that wall of separation as a source of protection for them. They will however, when enforced secularization goes too far, or if another religion takes the position of being the majority religion. For example: Catholics may end up the majority with the flood of immigrants from Mexico. Somehow, I don’t think the Baptist will favor prayer in public school when they learn that their child prays to Mary rather than directly to God.

    Social issues are important Robert. That doesn’t mean we dump people that are super strong on Freedom in other areas. I seek to bring out the best in people, not punitively attack those that differ in opinion with me. Especially on only a few issues. That is sheer arogance. That heals nothing, replaces learnig with resentment, and actually does damage to the Constitution by abating their freedoms of expression etc.
    Freedom is for everyone, not just your chosen few.

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