Op-Ed Statehouse

Constitutional Challenge to Office of Legislative Counsel and House Judiciary Committee

Among Vermont’s current plethora of new gun laws, is H 610. Masked in “domestic violence” language, this trash legislation is visibly unconstitutional.

After watching initial House Judiciary Committee hearings on this bill, I was stunned that Vermont’s Office of Legislative Counsel (represented at the House Judiciary Committee by Attorney Erik Fitzpatrick) did not even address the issue of potential conflict with the Second Amendment. I am an attorney with knowledge of the Constitution, so I wrote an article for American Thinker on H 610. (Attorney General TJ Donovan also gave testimony, in which he said his Office “fully supports this legislation.”)

Additionally, I forwarded that article to Luke Martel, Director and Chief Counsel at the Office of Legislative Counsel, demanding that he or his office explain this oversight. I have had no response:

From: John Klar < farmerjohnklar@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 6:43 PM
Subject: article re your office
To: < lmartland@leg.state.vt.us>

I’ve watched for years as your office pretends to be nonpartisan but simply rubber-stamps Progressive legislation with little but lip service to Constitutional issues. Perhaps you can one day persuade me otherwise, but until then I will be holding your Office’s feet to the Constitutional fire. Mr. Fitzpatrick implied he wrote the H 610 legislation (seems to be pretty proud of himself). So is the ignorance of fundamental constitutional safeguards feigned, or are your office (or he) really that incompetent?

I await your office’s explanation of how H 610 even remotely passes Constitutional muster — scrap it now, or explain to the public (who are now listening intently) why it’s OK. Wanna add an appeal process? Too late.

Time for some accountability, sir — we have tired of this kind of failure, by people paid to protect us.

John Klar


For years I have watched our legislature ignore fundamental constitutional protections, as if they could just bypass those “inalienable” constraints as unimportant platitudes. I have come to question whether this Office does its job, and now my latest demand for accountability has been ignored. Further, I am unaware that Director Martel’s office has done anything to alert the House Judiciary Committee of my complaints. If so, this only confirms my fears — Vermonters are being disserved by those paid to protect them. There are also two very progressive attorneys on the House Judiciary Committee, including its Chair, Maxine Grad — are they utterly ignorant of basic Constitutional law, or just joining in an effort to enact illegal legislation? I think we all know that it is the latter.

The Office of Legislative Counsel has not protected Vermont citizens, here and elsewhere. I opposed unconstitutional laws against farmers — where was this Office then, to protect small farms? Sleeping at the wheel, as per usual. Does this Office employ any conservatives, or just progressives? I’m a voter, and I would like to be answered rather than ignored.

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