Virginia lawmakers are seeking to hold Gov. Terry McAuliffe in contempt of court for flouting the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling that his mass amnesty for convicted felons violates the Virginia Constitution.
McAuliffe is one of the most loyal supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton. They made his career when they made him head of the Democratic National Committee, and have helped him in every political contest he has fought. With Hillary facing a very close race in Virginia, on Apr. 22, McAuliffe tried to use his clemency powers as governor to restore the voting rights of 206,000 convicted felons in the Old Dominion.
Article II, Section 1 of Virginia’s supreme law bars felons—those duly convicted of inflicting serious social harm upon society by committing major violations of criminal laws—from voting on who will make the laws of the state or enforcing the laws of the state. But the commonwealth’s constitution also empowers the governor to restore the voting rights of a felon on a case-by-case basis.
Citing this power, McAuliffe granted mass amnesty to felons. In Virginia, re-enfranchising 200,000 felons could give Hillary Clinton a boost on Election Day.
After an emergency hearing, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the mass amnesty was illegal, excoriating the Democratic-operative-turned-public-official with incredulous statements including, “To be sure, no Governor of this Commonwealth, until now, have even suggested that such a power exists. And the only Governors who have seriously considered the question concluded that no such a power exists.”
The court went on to add that a Virginia governor can use his clemency power only if a felon applies for relief, and even then only after considering the specific facts of an applicant’s case.
McAuliffe responded by re-issuing 13,000 grants of clemency, claiming he had somehow individually considered all of their case files, and would expeditiously grant clemency to almost all of the other convicted felons as well. He added insult to injury by actually sending documentation to the felons, encouraging them to register to vote.
Represented by U.S. Supreme Court heavyweight Charles Cooper, Virginia lawmakers have taken the historic step of filing to a motion seeking to have the Virginia Supreme Court hold McAuliffe in contempt. The motion claims that McAuliffe is defying the state’s highest court regarding the scope and meaning of this provision of the Virginia Constitution, quoting McAuliffe’s public declaration that he “cannot accept” the court’s decision.
The Virginia Supreme Court could act on the motion at any time, with or without holding a hearing beforehand.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News and a fellow with the American Civil Rights Union. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.