Virginia GOP plan to challenge governor’s rights restoration order for convicted felons


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — WAVY has learned that House and Senate Republicans have retained an attorney and plan on challenging Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s “blanket” restoration of civil rights of more than 206,000 convicted felons.

We have spoken with Speaker of the House William Howell (R-Stafford), and in the news release,  he states, “Governor McAuliffe adopted an unprecedented view of executive authority and exceeded the powers granted to him by the Constitution of Virginia when he … restored the rights. It is the obligation of the legislative and judicial branches to serve as a check on overreaches of executive power.”Read: Full News Release

In a phone interview with WAVY, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3rd District) said, “We as republicans are not against the appropriate restoration of rights that are evaluated on an individual basis. But to do it en masse where the governor could not even identify who these individuals are because he did this in a mass restoration just seems a little odd.”

McAuliffe announced an executive order that would restore rights for the convicted felons on April 22. The order would allow convicted felons to vote, run for public office and serve on a jury.

Republican leaders say the felons are not vetted, and McAuliffe is using his authority to restores rights in a blanket fashion, and he should be considering the restoration on a case-by-case basis.

Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) Chairwoman Susan Swecker issued this statement Monday on the Republicans’ announcement:

Virginia Republicans are utterly predictable. Instead of working to earn the votes of Virginians who have paid their debts to society, Republicans would rather strip them of their rights.

Republicans will stop at nothing to preserve Civil War era barriers to the polls, which disproportionally affect African American and minority voters. Time after time they have jumped at the opportunity to make it harder to vote. Between voter ID laws, regulations governing absentee voting, and practices at the polls, Republicans actively work to silence voices across the Commonwealth.”

Gov. McAuliffe’s office did not respond to a call or email for comment.Copyright 2016 WAVY. All rights reserved.

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