The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday ruled against Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who completed their sentences, court documents showed.
The court in a 4-3 ruling said McAuliffe overstepped his clemency powers under the state constitution by issuing a sweeping order in April restoring rights to all ex-offenders who are no longer incarcerated or on probation or parole.
In its opinion, the court said that none of the state’s previous 71 governors had ever issued a clemency order to a class of felons.
‘NOT EVEN SUGGESTED’
“To be sure, no governor of Virginia, until now, has even suggested that such a power exists,” the court said. “And the only governors who have seriously considered the question concluded that no such power exists.”
If the court had upheld McAuliffe’s April 22 executive order, it could have helped tip Virginia, a perennial swing state in presidential elections, in favor of presumptive US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton chose US Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her vice presidential running mate on Friday to help her do battle with US Republican nominee Donald Trump in November’s election.
John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, hailed the ruling, saying in a statement that McAuliffe’s decision amounted to “a blatant effort to stack the deck for Hillary Clinton in November.”
Attorneys for leaders in the Republican-controlled Virginia legislature had said that McAuliffe exceeded his authority by restoring voting rights en masse, rather than on a case-by-case basis.
Virginia is one of four states whose constitutions permanently disenfranchise felons, but allow the governor to restore voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan civil liberties group.
McAuliffe said in a statement after the ruling that the court “has placed Virginia as an outlier in the struggle for civil and human rights.”
“It is a disgrace that the Republican leadership of Virginia would file a lawsuit to deny more than 200,000 of their own citizens the right to vote,” he said.
McAuliffe said he will sign “nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights of the citizens who have had their rights restored and registered to vote.”
Many of the convicts benefiting from the order are African-Americans or Latinos, two groups that have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the past.
US President Barack Obama won Virginia in 2012 by about 150,000 votes and in 2008 by about 235,000 votes.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy