Virginia republicans file lawsuit to stop Governor’s restoration of rights to ex-felons

Posted at 9:11 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 21:28:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A group of Virginia republicans have asked the Virginia Supreme Court to stop what it called governor Terry McAuliffe's unconstitutional restoration of voting rights to more than 200,000 former felons.

The leaders of the House of Delegates and State Senate lead the lawsuit, which was filed in the Virginia Supreme Court Monday.

They said the state constitution forbids Governor McAuliffe's mass restoration of political rights.

“Whether he's restoring voting rights, or he’s restoring rights to serve on the jury, or the right to seek and hold public office in the Commonwealth, any of those political rights, has to be done on a case by case individualized basis,” said Chuck Cooper, lead attorney for Virginia Republicans.

Terry McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Republicans also said that McAuliffe plans to influence the November election by restoring the voting rights of ex-felons.

To that, Governor McAuliffe's spokesperson, Brian Coy, has said is absolutely not true.

Richie Canney, who recently had his voting rights restored, said he’s excited to have his rights back and he can’t wait to make his vote count.

“I can’t make a whole lot of noise about what’s right and what’s wrong, unless I cast my vote,” Canney said. “That’s what I’ll be able to do in November.

Richie Canney

Richie Canney

Canney said he’s not concerned about Monday’s move by Virginia republicans, because it all comes down to fairness.

“My self, along with a whole lot of people that have been incarcerated, we paid our debt,” Canney said. “We’re paying our taxes like anybody else. I don’t see why we wouldn’t have that right.”

CBS 6 reached out to the McAuliffe about the lawsuit, he said this lawsuit continues to treat felons as second class citizens and places Virginia with the overwhelming majority of states that restore rights of people who have served their time.

“I’m always surprised at what they do, clearly all the constitutional scholars that we dealt with said I had the authority to do it. It’s really unfortunate they would put their name on a document which really turns Virginia backwards, McAuliffe said. “They believe that fewer voters are better, I believe more folks, anyone who is entitled to vote, ought to be able to go in and vote. That’s what I fought for.”