And our constitution also says that by default no felon may vote unless the Governor makes an individualized determination and restores that particular felon's voting rights. The process is what is being challenged. No one questions his ability to restore rights for individuals or to even restore the rights of everyone through an independent, individual action for each felon. The challenge is to him just saying in a single act that from this day forward every felon in the present and every felon in the future forever will not face voting restrictions, even though the same constitution he's claiming his power under says otherwise.
Article V. Executive
Section 12. Executive clemency
The Governor shall have power to remit fines and penalties under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by law; to grant reprieves and pardons after conviction except when the prosecution has been carried on by the House of Delegates; to remove political disabilities consequent upon conviction for offenses committed prior or subsequent to the adoption of this Constitution; and to commute capital punishment.
He shall communicate to the General Assembly, at each regular session, particulars of every case of fine or penalty remitted, of reprieve or pardon granted, and of punishment commuted, with his reasons for remitting, granting, or commuting the same.
It says absolutely nothing about how the Governor must issue reprieves. The only limitation mentioned above is in regards to convictions by the House of Delegates. Other than that, there are no restrictions on how he may use his power to restore rights taken away via felony disenfranchisement. It basically just says he can restore rights, and that's it.
The 2nd paragraph in my quote only specifies that the Governor must tell the General Assembly each person who got their rights back, which isn't a restriction but rather a requirement of notification. I'm sure he'll do that just fine.
Trying to interpret that clause of the State Constitution to only allow "individualized" reprieves would be a big stretch and ironically the opposite of how conservatives claim they wish the Constitution to be interpreted.http://law.lis.virginia.gov/constitution
The challenge is to him just saying in a single act that from this day forward every felon in the present and every felon in the future forever will not face voting restrictions, even though the same constitution he's claiming his power under says otherwise.
The thing is, he is not doing all this in a single act. He specifically said he will be issuing a new executive order restoring voting rights every month
. The orders he is issuing only restores voting rights to those who have lost them at the time the order is issued. Any after that have to wait for the next order to be issued.
It's worth noting that he also stated he had law professors in Virginia review the Constitution to determine the legality of this. They gave him an unequivocal thumbs up. Republicans are just mad that he did a blanket restoration that will bring more Democrats onto the rolls come election day and hurt their chances not only in the presidential election, but the upcoming gubernatorial election(s) in 2017 and beyond.