RICHMOND -- Virginia’s highest court on Thursday refused to find Gov. Terry McAuliffe in contempt of court over his efforts to restore voting rights to felons.
Republican legislative leaders recently filed a contempt-of-court motion against McAuliffe (D) after the governor announced that he had individually restored rights to 13,000 felons and was working to do the same for a total of more than 200,000.
McAuliffe’s action came in response to a July ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court, which threw out a blanket clemency order that he had issued in April. The governor has described his latest move as a way to comply with the court’s order while addressing “an issue of basic justice.”
But in a motion filed in court two weeks ago, Republicans argued that the practical effect of McAuliffe’s workaround is the same as the original, sweeping clemency order that the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional.
Without comment Thursday, the court denied the motion.
“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. “Restoring these Virginians’ civil rights is morally the right thing to do, and we will continue to move forward via a process that is in full compliance with the court’s July 22nd ruling and the precedent of previous governors. 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.”
Republican leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.