Va. Supreme Court: Governor not in contempt for restoring felon voting rights

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/AP) — The Supreme Court of Virginia on Thursday denied a motion by Republicans trying to hold Governor Terry McAuliffe in contempt for restoring the voting rights of thousands of felons.

The court didn’t explain its reason for denying the motion.

GOP lawmakers wanted the high court to hold the Democratic governor in contempt for violating its July court decision that invalidated a sweeping executive order restoring the rights of more than 200,000 felons who completed their sentences.

McAuliffe recently began restoring felons’ voting rights again under a new process, but Republicans argued that there’s no practical difference between McAuliffe’s new process and his previous actions.

The GOP has said McAuliffe is trying to add Democratic voters to help presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in November.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell issued a statement after the Supreme Court’s order Thursday, which said in part:

We are disappointed by today’s news but respect the Supreme Court’s order. Throughout this process, our goal was to hold Governor McAuliffe accountable to the Constitution and the Rule of Law. The governor stretched the bounds of the Virginia Constitution and sought to expand executive power in a manner we viewed as inappropriate and reckless. The Supreme Court strongly rebuked the governor’s executive overreach in the original case.”

Governor McAuliffe also released a statement in response to the ruling, which reads:

I am pleased that the Supreme Court has dismissed the case Republicans filed in their latest attempt to prevent individuals who have served their time having a full voice in our society. Restoring these Virginians’ civil rights is morally the right thing to do, and we will continue to move forward via a process that is in full compliance with the court’s July 22nd ruling and the precedent of previous governors.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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