Attorneys for the General Assembly Republicans have filed suit in the Virginia Supreme Court to stop the Governor from restoring voting rights to 206,000 convicted felons. Six Virginia voters including Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), are bring the suit. A copy of the filing is here. From the announcement of the filing,
“The Constitution of Virginia forbids this unprecedented assertion of executive authority,” the filing states. “Governor McAuliffe’s executive order defies the plain text of the Constitution, flouts the separation of powers, and has no precedent in the annals of Virginia history. The Governor simply may not, with a stroke of the pen, unilaterally suspend and amend the Constitution.”
“Governor Terry McAuliffe exceeded the authority granted to him by the Virginia Constitution and we simply cannot ignore this unprecedented executive overreach,” said Speaker Howell. “Along with fellow citizens, we are asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to stop the implementation of the order and any similar orders he may issue in the future. The case against the Governor’s executive order is overwhelming. A plain reading of the Constitution, 240 years of practice, and precedent-setting Virginia Supreme Court cases lead to the unambiguous conclusion that the Governor’s order is unconstitutional and cannot stand.”
“The Governor has willfully ignored constitutional limitations on his power, demonstrating his complete and total disregard for the Commonwealth, the people of Virginia, and the principles of representative government,” Majority Leader Norment said. “We have three separate and co-equal branches of government to serve as checks and balances to prevent abuses of power. To fulfill the legislative branch’s constitutional duty to check the excesses of executive power, we are compelled to challenge this order. The weight of the case against the Governor’s action is staggering, and we are confident we will prevail on the merits.”
The key excerpt,
“The history of the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Virginia demonstrates that the Executive clemency provision was meant to be a narrow delegation of power in a system that otherwise sharply circumscribes Executive prerogatives. It therefore cannot be understood to include the power to suspend or excise the Constitution’s general provision disqualifying persons convicted of a felony from voting, or, for that matter, any other law.” (p. 29)
will this be enough and be decided in time to be meaningful?
I am not a lawyer, but I thought an important part of a lawsuit was to show how you have been harmed by an action. Just saying that something is harming me in some vague way isn’t enough.
This seems like nothing but a gift to the democrats to show how much the GOP wants to disenfranchise voters.
I believe we should restore the rights of non violent individuals if they meet the criteria to do so. I believe the issue is how the governor used his authority improperly excluding public debate by the elected representatives and yes circumventing the Virginia constitution’s intent.
Thank heavens. Let’s hope this guy doesn’t have the same hankering for executive orders that O has.