PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
December 23, 2003

Member of Congress, Virginia's 3rd District

by Jim Newsom

In the early days of the republic, Virginia produced many of our national leaders. Four of the first five Presidents---Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe---were Virginians. The times have certainly changed, though. It’s been a long time since we’ve elected a leader of national stature or renown, unless you count William Scott, U. S. Senator from 1973-79, who was voted “dumbest” member of the Senate by his colleagues.

These days, amidst the partisan acrimony running rampant through our political system, it’s hard for a voice of reason and intelligence to be elected, much less heard on the national stage. Congressman Robert C. (“Bobby”) Scott of Newport News is that rare Virginia politician known as a champion of human rights, the Bill of Rights and justice for the little guy while establishing himself as a voice of reason and moderation on Capitol Hill.

Scott did his constituents and his state proud as a member of the Judiciary Committee that considered articles of impeachment against President Clinton in 1998, defending the Constitution while warning of the “irreparable harm to our system of government by establishing a dangerous and partisan impeachment-at-will precedent.” He has been a nationally quoted voice of sanity in the debate over the Bush Administration’s Patriot Act. He’s appeared often on political talk shows and was quoted in a New Yorker article two weeks ago about the “unholy alliance” between black Democrats and white Republicans that led to the intricately gerrymandered redistricting mess of the last two decades.

Ironically, Scott was elected to his seat in Congress in 1992 as a result of gerrymandering. When the new congressional district map was redrawn after the 1990 census, Virginia’s 3rd district was one of the most bizarrely shaped in the nation, snaking its way from Norfolk up the peninsula and out to the middle part of the state, at times no wider than the I-64 right of way. The purpose was to help insure the election of an African American. Scott’s victory that year made him the first African American member of Congress from Virginia since Reconstruction. Though his district was redrawn under court order in 1998, it still meanders from Norfolk through Newport News and on up to Richmond.

Educated at Harvard and Boston College Law School, Bobby Scott has held elected office for the last 25 years, now serving his sixth term in Congress after 15 years in the Virginia General Assembly. His likeable personality, sharp mind and fierce determination have served him and his constituents well in championing education, employment rights, consumer protection, children with disabilities and juvenile delinquency protection. In both intellect and concern for the common good, Congressman Bobby Scott stands far above most of the political pack.

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