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Va. Supreme Court agrees to hear lawsuit to stop Governor’s restoration of rights to ex-felons

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Terry McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. — The Supreme Court of Virginia have agreed to hear the lawsuit filed by a group of Virginia republicans to challenge Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order to restore the political rights of more than 206,000 convicted felons.

Virginia Republicans said the state constitution forbids McAuliffe’s mass restoration of political rights and the rights has to be done “on a case by case individualized basis.”

“We are pleased the Supreme Court recognizes the urgency of our challenge to Governor McAuliffe’s unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of executive power,” said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell.

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

“A plain reading of the Constitution, 240 years of Virginia history and precedent-setting Virginia Supreme Court cases make the case against the executive order overwhelming. We are confident the constitution and rule of law will prevail.”

When the lawsuit was filed last week, McAuliffe said his executive order placed Virginia with the overwhelming majority of states that restore rights of people who have served their time.

“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.”

The Supreme Court will hear the case, brought by Howell, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr., and four other Virginia voters, at a special session on July 19, 2016.