RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia chapter of the NAACP is expected to file a brief in support of Governor's Terry McAuliffe's executive order that restored the rights of over 200,000 former felons.
In a statement Sunday evening, the group called McAuliffe's April executive order "a significant step toward ensuring that Virginians with felony convictions are able to not only re-enter and meaningfully participate in society, but also exercise their fundamental right to vote."
In a show of support, the Virginia NAACP will submit an amicus curiae brief to the Virginia Supreme Court in the case Howell v. McAuliffe.
Six Virginia Republicans, including House Speaker William J. Howell, are challenging McAuliffe's order in Virginia Supreme Court.
"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."
Howell also spoke out when it was revealed by two northern Virginia Commonwealth's Attorneys that some of those who had their rights restored during April's executive order were still incarcerated, on supervised probation, including some high-profile killers.
Governor McAuliffe said these were clerical errors that are being fixed right now.
For the Virginia NAACP, they believe the Governor's executive order was a step in the right direction for the Commonwealth.
"Through his constitutional authority, the Governor has acted to alleviate the discriminatory effects of Virginia's disenfranchisement law for hundreds of thousands of Virginians re entering society," said Linda Thomas, President of the Virginia NAACP.
"This is an important step in the ongoing fight to dismantle structural barriers to equality for all Virginians—many of which, as in this case, are anachronistic vestiges of discriminatory eras," Thomas continued.
During the Virginia Democrats Jefferson-Jackson dinner earlier this month, McAuliffe defended his decision to issue the executive order.
"40 other states have done what we just did," he continued. "Why we are always last? Why aren't we leading the nation," adding, "I think democracy is about more people voting."
The Virginia NAACP is expected to host a press conference on their filing Monday at 11 a.m. at their Richmond office.
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