Hearing set in lawsuit over Virginia state senator’s censure

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge is set to hear arguments Thursday about whether to dismiss a lawsuit from firebrand Virginia conservative Amanda Chase over her state Senate colleagues’ decision to censure her.

Chase, who is a Republican candidate for governor, filed the lawsuit in February, a few days after her colleagues passed the censure resolution on a bipartisan vote, denouncing her for a “pattern of unacceptable conduct.”

Chase has been accused of voicing support for those who participated in storming the U.S. Capitol. She herself attended a rally shortly before the attack on the Capitol, but she was not part of the group that later stormed the building. Chase also had previously called for martial law to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Named as plaintiffs in Chase’s lawsuit are Susan Clarke Schaar, the Senate clerk, and the Senate of Virginia through Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who in his role presides as the president of the chamber and oversees its daily work.

Attorney General Mark Herring’s office is defending them and has asked a judge to toss the lawsuit. His office is asking the court to declare that Schaar and Fairfax are immune from the lawsuit and that Chase’s claims are a “nonjusticiable political question,” meaning that they are not for a court to decide.

Chase argues in court documents that the question before the court is not whether the Senate has the authority to censure her but whether the Senate complied with its own rules.

“The Plaintiff is … asking the Court to determine if the compulsory self-governing rules of the Senate were complied with or simply bypassed to expediate a result favorable to the majority and to the extreme prejudice of the Plaintiff and her due process rights to fundamental fairness,” her attorney wrote.

According to court documents filed in the case, neither party will call witnesses at the Thursday hearing.

The censure resolution, which passed on a 24-9 vote, says that Chase “has exhibited conduct unbecoming of a Senator during her terms in office by displaying a disregard for civility in discourse with colleagues, making false and misleading statements both in committee and on the Senate floor, and displaying a disregard for the significance of her duty to the citizens of the Commonwealth as an elected representative in the Senate of Virginia.”