News & Politics

Virginia GOP to Sue McAuliffe Over Felon Voting Rights

Gov. Terry McAuliffe holds up the order he signed to restore rights to felons in Virginia at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Friday, April 22, 2016. More than 200,000 convicted felons will be able to cast ballots in the swing state of Virginia in November's election under a sweeping executive order by McAuliffe announced Friday that restores their rights to vote and run for office. (Mark Gormus /Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Republican lawmakers in Virginia plan to file a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decision to allow more than 200,000 convicted felons to vote in November. Last month, the longtime Clinton ally circumvented his Republican-run legislature with an executive order that restored the rights of felons to vote, run for office and sit on a jury.

Via the Hill:

“Gov. McAuliffe’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked,” Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment said in a statement, according to Time.

Republicans fear that McAuliffe’s executive order will benefit Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, according to Time. Virginia is a crucial battleground state in the presidential race, and was won by President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Norment said his predecessors and previous attorneys general in Virginia have concluded that McAuliffe does not have the authority for issuing blanket restorations of voting rights.

Virginia Republicans have hired Attorney Charles J. Cooper, Time added, but have not said when they would file the lawsuit. Cooper served as an assistant attorney general under former President Reagan, even arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

The Virginia GOP does not plan on using taxpayer dollars for their legal challenge.

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) criticized McAuliffe’s decision in an op-ed published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Saturday.

“McAuliffe’s blanket executive order abuses the power of his office and is in contravention of the judgment of the Virginia legislature,” he wrote. “This is an infamy upon the criminal justice system in Virginia.”