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Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase sues over being censured

Posted at 12:21 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 12:25:07-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Virginia state senator seeking the Republican nomination for governor filed a federal lawsuit Monday over her legislative colleagues' recent decision to censure her.

The Virginia Senate approved a measure rebuking Sen. Amanda Chase for a “pattern of unacceptable conduct” last week in a bipartisan vote. The vote followed a long debate that featured scathing criticisms of Chase from both Democrats and Republicans.

In a news release announcing the lawsuit, Chase's office said she was “being singled out and selectively penalized for taking unpopular political positions.”

The censure measure was introduced after Chase used a floor speech to defend Ashli Babbitt, a woman who was fatally shot by U.S. Capitol Police during the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Chase herself is one of many state lawmakers from around the country who attended a rally shortly before the attack on the Capitol, but she was not part of the group that later stormed the building.

Chase, who has a long history of inflammatory remarks, had previously called for martial law to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. She repeated former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, and lost access to her Facebook account after falsely blaming leftist activists for the Capitol insurrection.

The lawsuit, which Chase threatened to file last week, seeks an injunction preventing the Senate clerk from allowing the publication of the censure resolution in the chamber's official journal.

It also asks the court to issue a judgment that the censure violated Chase's First Amendment rights and order the expungement of the censure. Chase, who was recently demoted in seniority, is also seeking to have her rank restored.

Named as plaintiffs are Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar and Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who in his role presides as the president of the Senate. Schaar did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, and a spokeswoman for Fairfax had no immediate comment.