Republicans file suit challenging McAuliffe's order to restore voting rights to felons

Republicans file suit challenging McAuliffe's order to restore voting rights to felons

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Six Republicans are challenging Gov. Terry McAuliffe's executive order to restore the voting rights of more than 206,000 convicted felons.

Those challenging McAuliffe's decision includes House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. of Stafford.

"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."

McAuliffe issued the order in April and has said that nearly 80 percent of the felons in the database are non-violent offenders.

"Virginia will no longer build walls and barriers to the ballot box. We will break them down," McAuliffe said on April 22.

"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," said Howell. "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."

In addition to Howell and Norment, those in the lawsuit are:

  • Bill C. Cleveland of Alexandria
  • Marianne Gearhart of Fairfax Station
  • M. Brett Hall of Coeburn
  • W. Hunter Slemp of Dryden

Click here to read the full petition.

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