RICHMOND — Virginia’s highest court on Thursday turned down a request from Republicans to find Gov. Terry McAuliffe in contempt of court over his efforts to restore voting rights to felons.
The ruling clears the way for McAuliffe (D) to continue a fast-paced effort to grant clemency to 200,000 violent and nonviolent felons. It also gives McAuliffe at least a temporary win in one of the most bitter battles of his administration, in which he has repeatedly called Republicans racists while the GOP has accused him of administrative bumbling and violating the law.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case Republicans filed in their latest attempt to prevent individuals who have served their time having a full voice in our society,” McAuliffe said in a written statement. “It is my hope that the court’s validation of the process we are using will convince Republicans to drop their divisive efforts to prevent Virginians from regaining their voting rights and focus their energy and resources on making Virginia a better place to live for the people who elected all of us to lead.”
In a written statement, Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) said the contempt motion was “completely baseless.”
“And I’m glad the Supreme Court dispatched it so quickly,” Herring said. “Governor McAuliffe is doing the right thing in giving these Virginians back their voice and their vote and I hope the legislature will join the effort.”
Republican leaders indicated that they were done fighting McAuliffe in court but that they would take up legislation early next year that could rein in the governor’s clemency push.
The Virginia Republicans are determined to be little bitches. Someone please tell me a logical reason for denying the right to vote to those individuals who have served their time? It makes no sense to me. If you have repaid your “debt to society” then it should all be over. All rights should be restored.
The punishment should not go on forever. The reason for denying voting rights is fairly transparent if one looks at the demographics of those serving time. The actual Virginia law harkens back to the days of Jim Crow.
The desired goal of all Virginians should be to make re-entry into society as seamless as possible for those who have been released from prison. That isn’t really how it is, however. It is very difficult for someone convicted of a felony to get a job unless the work is very menial labor. Even companies who don’t have a box on the application (have you ever been convicted of a felony?), most applicants undergo a background check. If there is a felony conviction, generally speaking, the person isn’t hired.
Restoring voting rights is such a simple thing to do for someone who has been incarcerated. Yes, this issue is very personal for me. I have a very good friend who has been through every step of this issue. He registered to vote, had his voting rights taken away, again. Now his rights have been restored. I am sorry that the Virginia General Assembly now wants to knock him back down again. They really have no reason other than their assumption that those who have had their voting rights restored might vote for a Democrat.
Actually, why on earth would anyone who had been convicted of a felony and had all his rights removed WANT to vote for a Republican?