Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he has individually cleared 13,000 Virginia felons to vote in the 2016 election, just one month after the state’s Supreme Court struck down his earlier sweeping order that automatically restored many felons’ voting rights.
McAuliffe’s new process flies directly in the face of the Court’s ruling and creates confusion less than three months before voters choose the next president. Defiantly, McAuliffe plans to continue his individualized process to get hundreds of thousands of felons back onto voter rolls by November.
The state court prevented McAuliffe from unilaterally using the governor’s clemency authority to provide en-masse clearance for 206,000 Virginian felons so they can to vote, to serve on juries, run for office, and work as notaries. His order included murderers, rapists, sex offenders, kidnappers, child abusers, arsonists, drug traffickers, and other dangerous criminals.
“The Governor’s policy applies to criminals who have committed even the most heinous violent crimes including murder, rape, child rape, and kidnapping,” Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell said following McAuliffe’s order. “Under this Governor’s policy, violent criminals will be treated the same as lifelong law-abiding citizens [including] serving on our juries.”
McAuliffe responded by taunting Republicans: “Quit complaining and go out and earn these folks the right to vote for you. Go out and talk to them,” he said on ABC News, slamming the GOP for wanting to “put walls up” against violent criminals.
But in his haste to stuff the voter rolls with new, Democrat-friendly voters, McAuliffe “mistakenly” gave voting rights to high-profile child sex abusers and killers, according to the Washington Post:
Ronald R. Cloud, 68, was in prison in West Virginia for sexual assaults involving a child when he pleaded guilty in 2014 to the murder of a Fauquier County man in a three-decade-old cold case.
Daniel Harmon-Wright, 36, was a Culpepper police officer when he shot a Sunday school teacher in her Jeep as the vehicle drove away. […]
In addition to Cloud and Harmon-Wright, they discovered Cecil Leonard Hopkins, 51, who strangled his girlfriend and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He is living in Maryland under supervised probation.
Two others — Virgil J. Dantic, 77, and Frank P. Ferrara, 52 — are serving time in Virginia prisons for sex crimes, records show.
Killers on probation residing in other states were also given Virginia voting rights.
Leftist groups sprung into action hours after McAuliffe announced his move, and partly due to their efforts, 13,000 felons registered to vote in the critical swing state.
But State Republican leaders successfully sued McAuliffe, and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that those 13,000 felons must be banned from voter rolls once again:
“Never before have any of the prior 71 Virginia Governors issued a clemency order of any kind—including pardons, reprieves, commutations, and restoration orders—to a class of unnamed felons without regard for the nature of the crimes or any other individual circumstances relevant to the request,” Chief Justice Donald Lemons wrote for the court.
“To be sure, no Governor of this Commonwealth, until now, has even suggested that such a power exists. And the only Governors who have seriously considered the question concluded that no such power exists…
The court also noted that while “scores of restoration orders have been issued [by governors] for more than a century to specific felons who requested that their civil rights be restored,” each time the felon in question had petitioned the governor for relief. This is the first time that a Virginia governor acted on his own initiative, without any request.
The court declared, “The clemency power may be broad, but it is not absolute.”
As Breitbart News’ senior legal editor Ken Klukowski noted, even former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, came to the conclusion he did not have legal authority to grant mass amnesty to all Virginia felons. Kaine’s lawyers determined “power could be exercised only in particular cases to named individuals for whom a specific grant of executive clemency is sought,” and further wrote the “notion that the Constitution of the Commonwealth would be rewritten via executive order is troubling.”
Due to the booming Washington, D.C. metro area and enormous demographic shifts, the once-reliable red Old Dominion state is already primed to turn blue.