Attorneys for General Assembly Republicans are filing suit in the Supreme Court of Virginia to halt enforcement of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s order restoring the political rights of more than 206,000 convicted felons, Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) announced Monday.
Six Virginia voters, including Howell and Norment, are asking the Supreme Court to issue writs of mandamus and prohibition to stop the implementation of the order. In accordance with Supreme Court rules, the petition will be filed with the Court later today, after the respondents receive notice. A copy of the filing can be found here.
“The Constitution of Virginia forbids this unprecedented assertion of executive authority,” the filing states. “Governor McAuliffe’s executive order defies the plain text of the Constitution, flouts the separation of powers, and has no precedent in the annals of Virginia history. The Governor simply may not, with a stroke of the pen, unilaterally suspend and amend the Constitution.”
“Governor Terry McAuliffe exceeded the authority granted to him by the Virginia Constitution and we simply cannot ignore this unprecedented executive overreach,” said Speaker Howell. “Along with fellow citizens, we are asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to stop the implementation of the order and any similar orders he may issue in the future. The case against the Governor’s executive order is overwhelming. A plain reading of the Constitution, 240 years of practice, and precedent-setting Virginia Supreme Court cases lead to the unambiguous conclusion that the Governor’s order is unconstitutional and cannot stand.”
“The Governor has willfully ignored constitutional limitations on his power, demonstrating his complete and total disregard for the Commonwealth, the people of Virginia, and the principles of representative government,” Majority Leader Norment said. “We have three separate and co-equal branches of government to serve as checks and balances to prevent abuses of power. To fulfill the legislative branch’s constitutional duty to check the excesses of executive power, we are compelled to challenge this order. The weight of the case against the Governor’s action is staggering, and we are confident we will prevail on the merits.”