The Latest: Virginia Court weighs former felon voting rights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2016 11:59 AM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the lawsuit over Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 former felons (all times local):

12:00 p.m.

Dozens of supporters of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's order restoring voting rights to some 206,000 felons who have paid their debts to society demonstrated outside the state Capitol before the Virginia Supreme Court hearing Tuesday.

Kenneth Williams, who was convicted of robbery nearly 40 years ago, is one of more than 11,000 former offenders who registered to vote in November thanks to the Democratic governor's executive order. He's urging Republicans who are trying to keep him disenfranchised to look into their hearts and reconsider.

Williams says "everybody needs a second chance."

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10:30 a.m.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration is urging the Virginia Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to his restoration of voting rights to thousands of felons.

Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael argued Tuesday that the Republican lawmakers and other voters challenging his order have no legal standing because they haven't shown they've been harmed.

Charles Cooper, an attorney for the Republicans, argued that the governor's executive order is unconstitutional. He told the court the legal votes of the plaintiffs will be diluted if thousands of former offenders cast ballots in November.

The question is whether Virginia's constitution allows governors to restore voting rights en masse, or requires such decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis.

The justices did not immediately rule after Tuesday's hearing.

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3:40 a.m.

The Virginia Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a Republican lawsuit trying to block more than 200,000 felons in the state from voting in November.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday morning centered on whether the state's constitution allows governors to restore voting rights to former offenders en masse or requires them to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Republican lawmakers who sued Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe say the governor clearly violated the constitution and ignored decades of practice with his April executive order.

McAuliffe says he's confident he's on firm legal ground. But he has said he will restore all roughly 206,000 felons' political rights individually if he has to.