Scott Statement on Virginia Supreme Court Striking Down Governor McAuliffe’s Restoration of Rights Executive Order

July 23, 2016
Press Release

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement on yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia in Howell v. McAuliffe striking down Governor Terry McAuliffe’s April 2016 executive order restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 formerly incarcerated individuals:

“Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia is very disappointing.  Virginia is one of the few states in the Union that still permanently disenfranchises formerly incarcerated individuals who have already paid their debt to society.  The history behind the reasoning for this provision of Virginia law is striking and appalling.  Those who championed this provision during the height of the Jim Crow era were clear in their intent.  Carter Glass at the 1902 Virginia constitutional convention stated that this provision of our constitution was to ‘eliminate the darkey as a political factor in this State in less than five years, so that in no single county of the Commonwealth will there be the least concern felt for the complete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government.’

“Governor McAuliffe should be applauded for his administration’s tireless efforts to remove this vestige of Jim Crow from our Commonwealth.  While yesterday’s decision is an unfortunate set back, I am pleased that the Governor is already working to restore the rights of the more than 10,000 individuals who have registered to vote since the April 22, 2016 order in accordance with the court’s decision.  But Virginia is long overdue in joining the majority of the nation in how we treat the civil rights of the formerly incarcerated.  It is time for leaders in the Virginia General Assembly to immediately work to remove this abhorrent provision from our Commonwealth’s constitution.”

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