The ACLU of Virginia has asked Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to revise or remove two questions from his questionnaire for judicial applicants regarding mental and physical disabilities that the group says may violate the American with Disabilities Act.
The questions are: “Have you ever been treated for any emotional or mental illness or condition. If so, please give the particulars.”and “Do you suffer from any impairment of eyesight or hearing or any other physical limitation?”
“These questions are unnecessary, inappropriate, invasive and very likely illegal,” said Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. “Persons with disabilities fought for many years to eliminate employment and other forms of discrimination against them. The governor’s questions are an affront to them and the law, and we hope he will move swiftly to remove them.”
ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca K. Glenberg sent a letter to the governor’s office July 7, but has not received a response.
McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said the questions were pulled from questionnaires used by the General Assembly. “According to Legislative Services, those questions have been in place for at least 25 years and they have never received a complaint,’’ he said.
McDonnell’s office began accepting applications for people interested in becoming judges, and plans to begin the evaluation process since the General Assembly has failed to appoint judges.
On Thursday, McDonnell sent a letter to legislative leaders, urging them to take “immediate action” to either appoint judges or adjourn their special redistricting session so he can appoint them himself.
The General Assembly, one of only two state legislatures empowered to pick judges, has spent months bickering over how to fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court, leaving the court unable to hear as many cases and forcing it to rely more on semi-retired senior justices.
Legislators in Virginia can select new judges as long as they are in session — either during the regular annual session, which concluded in February, or in one of the special, shorter sessions convened periodically to address one or two particular issues.
If they adjourn, McDonnell is allowed to name justices to serve until the General Assembly returns for its regular session in January.