WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) announced that it is supporting a lawsuit brought against Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for his executive order restoring political rights to felons. The lawsuit, Howell v. McAuliffe, brought by state legislative leaders including Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell and Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, argues that the governor’s action was unconstitutional for granting clemency en masse and circumventing the General Assembly to do so.
“The constitution in Virginia is very clear: a governor may restore rights to deserving felons on a case-by-case basis, not to all felons at once with a stroke of his pen,” said SGLF Chairman and former U.S. Congressman Tom Reynolds. “A governor must report to the General Assembly and list his reasons before granting a pardon, not grant them at-large based solely on his own authority. Governor McAuliffe stepped far beyond the powers of his office with this executive order and could set a dangerous precedent for future leaders if his actions are allowed to stand. This lawsuit is an important and necessary step to end this senseless overreach from Virginia’s executive branch.”
“Not only is it grossly irresponsible to return the voting rights and rights to serve on a jury to felons en masse regardless of the nature or number of their crimes, but it is also truly remarkable that Governor McAuliffe did so with absolutely no authority to back it up,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “There is a system of checks and balances for a reason through a state’s constitution. The governor’s complete disregard for the rule of law in this case is unacceptable, and I am pleased that SGLF will be able to help put a stop to it.”
SGLF’s announcement comes as oral arguments begin in the case today, July 19