A Measured Approach to Restoring Felons’ Civil Rights

by James A. Bacon

habeeb

Del. Gregg Habeeb

Virginia Republicans have excoriated Governor Terry McAuliffe for endeavoring to issue a blanket restoration of civil rights to ex-felons. So, what’s their alternative?

First and most important, Republicans are submitting their proposals as bills that can be reviewed, debated, and amended. The process is transparent, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.

Second, a legislative package announced by Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem sets different standards for violent and non-violent offenders. Explains Habeeb in a press release (no link):

The constitutional amendment would allow non-violent offenders, as defined by the General Assembly, to automatically receive their political rights after they have completed their sentence, including all supervised or unsupervised probation, and paid all fines, fees, court costs, and restitution. Violent offenders would be allowed to apply to the governor two years after they have completed their sentence and any probation. The governor would be allowed to restore rights on an individual basis after they have paid their fines, fees, court costs, and restitution.

Everyone deserves an opportunity at redemption, but the nature and severity of the crimes should be taken into consideration and a second chance should only come after they have completed their entire sentence, which includes paying their debts to the justice system and to victims.

The package, which is co-sponsored by De. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, and Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, also would restore the right to own a firearm to non-violent offenders.

There’s a lot to debate here, but I’d wager this package comes closer than a blanket restoration of rights to reflecting the sentiments of most Virginians. But we really won’t know for sure until we subject the proposal to the legislative process. It’s called democracy. Some people still believe in the concept.

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45 responses to “A Measured Approach to Restoring Felons’ Civil Rights

  1. I’d feel more enthusiastic for this paean to “democracy” as practiced by the “legislative process” — if it weren’t for the obvious, glaring fact that it has taken the Governor’s initiative to embarrass the General Assembly (particularly Republicans in the GA) into action. Automatic restoration of the right to vote after completing one’s sentence seems to be one of those issues on which popular opinion is far ahead of the GA’s political gamesmanship.

    • Maybe the governor could have done it the old-fashioned way, by getting his allies in the General Assembly to submit bills and… I know this is a crazy idea… working across the aisle.

      • Maybe the General Assembly could have done it a long time ago instead of waiting for someone to do something ….

        and this ” First and most important, Republicans are submitting their proposals as bills that can be reviewed, debated, and amended. The process is transparent, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.”

        is a joke and you know it… the Va General Assembly is one of the least transparent – and honest legislatures in the country…

        the litany of “surprise” legislation is never ending..

        why do you try to portray these things in a way that is patently not the case? This is my objection with some of your commentary these days – it’s got a slant – a bias… not subtle..

        and no it’s not an “ideological prism”… others notice it also.

        I’m disappointed. You used to be a fairly straight – arrow – with a Conservative viewpoint but you called them more or less fairly and objectively – not anymore.. and I’m sorry to see it.

        there is no way you should be claiming that this General Assembly has done the right thing about restoring felon right – not all the years they did nothing and not now – “violent” in the law is everything from murder to a domestic argument and yet.. they are treated the same… with the GOP proposal.

        • “Violent” in the law is everything from murder to a domestic argument and yet.. they are treated the same… with the GOP proposal.

          Fair point. That’s why the legislation needs to be debated openly to make it better.

          Would you say that McAuliffe’s executive directive was debated openly to make it better?

      • Ah, the romance of the old-fashioned way. Can you smell the roses…from 1861 or pre-segregation VA when democracy truly worked? To me, it appears that democracy is working in order with this example. Elected Governor strong-armed, courts checked, GA working on legislation…

        • re: “working on legislation”… right… for how many years?

          sounds like the other issues that we’ve never actually got to actually doing… just “working on”… immigration, health care.. budget … etc…

  2. I’m not so sure there is strong support for automatic restoral of voting rights to violent offenders. Should murderers, rapists, and those who attempt to murder others by vicious beatings or stabbings be allowed to vote? I think reasonable people will disagree. Also, the statute covers those convicted of voter/election fraud. Do we really want someone who tries to manipulate voting results voting?

    And Larry’s argument that the GOP should have done something earlier continues to be bogus. The Democrats didn’t address the issue either. Go back to the 1994 session of the General Assembly when the Democratic Party controlled both the Senate and House of Delegates. Search for felons or voting rights. You will find no bills introduced. It’s like Obama’s whining about the GOP’s refusal to pass immigration reform legislation that he likes. His Party controlled both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency. Democrats want election issues. And led by the MSM, the “smart” people in this country fall for bogus arguments.

    • TMT – when did the Dems have both houses and the Gov?

      the GOP has been opposed since reformation.

      and no – you’re wrong and most states AGREE that once someone has paid their debt for their crime – they are entitled to rejoin society.

      your view is apparently that once they commit a crime – it’s all over – and to the end of their life – they will never regain their rights.

      you might feel that way -I acknowledge that – and I also acknowledge that is a majority of people feel that way -that’s the way our system of govt works… but it’s still wrong and it costs all of us … in making it near impossible for someone to be back in society once convicted.. you have felons all around you TMT – they’re in the store with you… they’re in the car behind you..they’re virtually everywhere you go outside of work and home.

      • Larry, until 1999, the GOP had never controlled the House of Delegates. The GOP controlled the Senate from 1996-through 2008 and again since 2012. Since Reconstruction ended, the Democrats have controlled the governorship except for Linwood Holton 1970-74, Miles Godwin (2nd term 1974-78, John Dalton 1978-82, George Allen 1994-98, Jim Gilmore 1998-2002 and Bob McDonnell 2010-14. I am excluding William Cameron 1882-86, who was a Readjuster. By any measure, the Democratic Party, which certainly supported the existing constitutional provisions on denying felons the vote contained in the 1902 constitution and retained in the major rewrite in 1971, had ample opportunity with full control of state government to change the constitution – or at least propose an amendment for voters to change the general ban on felons voting.

        I have no trouble with the restoration of voting rights to non-violent felons, except those convicted of voter or election fraud, who have served their sentences, including any probation, paid fines and made restitution. I don’t think felons involved in voting or election fraud should ever be permitted to vote. Do you?

        I don’t think that violent felons should automatically be entitled to vote, but should have the right to petition individually for restoration of their right to vote based on their rehabilitation and completion of punishment and any restitution requirements. Do you think a rapist or person convicted of attempted murder should automatically be entitled to vote upon completion of their punishment?

        • re: ” Do you think a rapist or person convicted of attempted murder should automatically be entitled to vote upon completion of their punishment?”

          probably not… I’d agree.

          but I think it’s funny that you go way back when on the Dems when today -the fear is that Dems want to do it for votes.

          If that’s what they wanted…they never could do it before now?

          I just think the GOP would not have gone along with the Dems trying to do that when the Dems had an advantage and clearly the GOP had no interest in doing it when they had the advantage… it’s not like the Dems would have opposed like the GOP would if the Dems had the advantage.

          geeze TMT – you know this, right?

          • Larry – no rational person can argue that McAuliffe did an end around on the statute in an attempt to get votes for Hillary Clinton.

            I don’t know what the Republican members of the GA would have done had the Democratic members of the GA proposed to change the constitutional prohibition on felon voting when the Democrats were in control of state government. My point is only that, when the Democrats were in charge, they did not propose a constitutional amendment changing the ban. Keep in mind that Virginia was a one-party state back when the ban was inserted in the Constitution in 1902 and again in 1971 when the ban was retained in the Constitution when its was heavily revised. Yet, the Democrats have seemingly done nothing until McAuliffe sullied his reputation this year for the Crooked Clintons. Crooked Clintons, my words.

          • TMT, do you mean that no rational person can argue that McAuliffe did NOT do an end run around the statute?

  3. LarrytheG,

    You are absolutely right but you might be taking the Chief Blogger too seriously.

    This is a big, sloppy wet kiss for the state GOP! The very same GOP that has tried to stifle rights for years, except, (dare I say it) Bob McDonnell who actually tried to do something about this incredibly unfair and racist exclusion.

    These same people get elected year after year because Virginia’s election system is rigged to keep as many independent thinkers and voters out of the process. These same people have gerrymandered repeatedly to keep African-Americans from voting. Check out the third congressional district and voter ID cards and the like to fight a fraud epidemic that does not exist.

    And now Brother Bacon is puckering up to say that it is up to straight-shooting people like Peter Ferrell to get it all worked out in an incredibly fair, even-minded way. (Jim night ask how the Henrico GOP rammed Ferrell on the voters through obscene back door, smoke-filled-room politics. It’s one reason we ended up with Dave Brat).

    Hmmm. Peter Ferrell. Prince of Light. Father is head of Dominion. Dominion “sponsors” Bacons Rebellion. Nah. Couldn’t be!

    • You might be right Peter but it sure seems to be Bacon has veered sharply of late… I alway considered him conscientiously Conservative.. you know.. reinventing the 21st century and all that stuff… but now it seems like a ruse…

  4. While this appears to be an improvement over the Governor’s Decree, I fear it suffers from of the disease that afflicts most all our modern era here in America. This is the idea and claim that legislative, executive, and/or judicial branches can fix problems simply be passing a feel good law and/or simply by picking up a phone and or a pen, and/or by simply scribbling some platitudes on a piece of paper about how the world, and everyone in it, should and thereafter must and will be forever after. And thus by declaration alone the “fix”chronic problems under banner of some theory, high sounding principle or passing fad of the day.

    This allows us to then pat ourselves on the back and forget about the problem, or go some mad jihad for political advantage against anyone who calls it a fool errand done in disguise of this or that.

    This rarely works, and more often makes the chronic problem worse.

    Here one might ask how does this proposal fix chronic rates of recidivism, that is crimes against other citizens done year after year by the same individuals? Can’t we do far better than this proposal? Can we give these felons a far better chance than this empty gesture that requires nothing new or innovative in return?

    I’d be exited about a rigorous and demanding program that really workds for a change, one that arms felons in prison with honest and real skills learned on a job in prison, including skill sets that arms felons with the tools of effective citizenship, and one that restores full rights to them after each felon earns those rights in a demonstrable way he or she can be proud of, ones that restore not only their full rights but also a far better chance for a good life. I believe the current proposal is just another easy way out for some, and still motivated by political advantage, or defense, by most.

    There is an interesting book out called “Learning by Doing – the real connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth” by James Bessen published in 2015 by Yale University Press. It has some relevance.

  5. The reason this is happening is very simple. Obama and McAuliffe do the bypasses because they are dealing with very partisan, non-negotiating GOP-controlled legislatures.

    It might not be pretty but then it is real politik.

  6. If Obama and McAuliffe are justified in doing what they do, then, presumably won’t complain if a President Trump acts in a similarly imperious manner.

    Checks and balances are there to restrain Republicans, not Democrats.

  7. Is this the first time trump’s name has been mentioned on this blog? A regular reader might think he does not exist. He does over at Bearing Drift

    • I’ve mentioned Trump a couple of times in relatively rare digressions into national issues (usually related to Boomergeddon). Trump doesn’t have much to say about Virginia-specific issues, so as a rule I regard him as inappropriate subject matter. The last thing I want is to have the Rebellion become a forum for talking about Trump — there are thousands of other places to do that.

  8. Too embarrassing for Virginia conservatives. Yeah, you have my sympathies

  9. Oh – I see why now the GOP is rushing legislation:

    ” Va. Supreme Court denies GOP request to hold Gov. McAuliffe in contempt for restoring felons’ voting rights”

    re: ” TMT, do you mean that no rational person can argue that McAuliffe did NOT do an end run around the statute?”

    so now the Supreme Court is not “rational”?

    let me guess – now – we’re going to hear how the Va Supreme Court has gone liberal, ….

    oh oh… looks like McAuliffe has a clear path now, eh?

  10. re: ” Keep in mind that Virginia was a one-party state back when the ban was inserted in the Constitution in 1902 and again in 1971 when the ban was retained in the Constitution when its was heavily revised. Yet, the Democrats have seemingly done nothing until McAuliffe sullied his reputation this year for the Crooked Clintons. Crooked Clintons, my words.”

    TMT – do you think the Dems in that era were “liberals” ought to get votes from blacks?

    “crooked Clinton” ? what does that have to do with anything other than right-wing fools idiocy?

  11. Might want to add to the blog post now that the Supreme Court has added it’s own “measured” approach…. apparently they’re in bed with crooked Hillary, eh?

    “In a unanimous one-page order, the Supreme Court said it would not force McAuliffe to return to court to prove that he is complying with the court’s July 22 ruling that struck down the governor’s first attempt to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons via executive order. The court also said it would not allow Republican General Assembly leaders to seek documents from the McAuliffe administration through a new discovery process.”

  12. So what are you trying to say, Larry?

  13. dunno Reed… might have got carried away, eh?

  14. I did forget the word “NOT.” Sorry for the error.

    But I must wonder where both Peter & Larry got the idea that an executive can take actions that are beyond the power of the office (e.g., change a provision in a statute or ignore it) because the legislature will not change the law to the executive’s liking. Sorry, my friends, this is not part of the American system of government.

    Look at FDR prior to WWII. Clearly he wanted to aid the British, the only remaining power against the Nazi menace. But the Congress wanted to avoid another “European War.” So the did the public. Churchill was beside himself, but FDR realized he had to act within the boundaries of the law and could not go around Congress. Yet, we hear false arguments that Obama and McAuliffe can go around Congress and the GA respectively because those bodies won’t pass laws that the executive wants passed. And if Obama and McAuliffe have that power, so would a President Trump. And that is scary.

    • Progressives are impatient with checks & balances because checks & balances impede their ability to impose their agenda upon a reluctant populace. It’s that simple. Well, they could well get their just desserts (and unfortunately so will the rest of us). At the moment, it looks like Donald Trump has a 50/50 chance of winning the presidential election — and progressives should be terrified by the prospect of the power of the executive, which they have worked so assiduously to help Barack Obama accumulate, wielded against them. What can be enacted with “a phone call and a pen” can be un-enacted the same way.

  15. Jim:

    When did you move out of Virginia and where did you go? I can only conclude from the following statement that you are no longer a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia …

    “First and most important, Republicans are submitting their proposals as bills that can be reviewed, debated, and amended. The process is transparent, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.”

    There is nothing transparent about The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond and there won’t be until we vote the clowns out en masse and rewrite the Virginia Constitution.

    But enough of the macro argument, let’s focus on the specifics of restoring the voting rights of felons who have served their term. As always in the Commonwealth of Ossification we’ll have to go to the archives …

    1999 – SJR 423 – Joint Subcommittee to Study Election Law and Felon Disenfranchisement … Agreed to by the Senate, February 4, 1999
    Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 23, 1999

    2001 – HJ 583 Constitutional amendment; restoration of right to vote for felons. Passed by indefinitely. Who voted to pass it by? Putney, Dillard, Rollison, Ingram, Marshall, Sherwood, Cox, Devolites, Jones, S.C., Reid, O’Brien–11.

    2002 – HB 60 Restoration of civil right to be eligible to vote for felons. Continued until the 2003 session.

    2003 – HJ 16 Constitutional amendment; restoration of civil rights for felons. Left in committee.

    2004 – SB 82 Felons; restoration of civil rights to be eligible to register to vote. Passed by Senate. Killed in committee by house.

    2005 – HB 2755 Felons; restoration of civil rights to be eligible to register to vote. Tabled in the courts of justice.

    I think you get the idea.

    “The General Assembly voted down a constitutional amendment related to further reform of the restoration of rights process, however, for 13 consecutive sessions prior to 2014”

    http://bit.ly/2cEUVtj

    Jim – Thank God the General Assembly has arrived to save the day!!

    • Two comments, Don,

      (1) While you may disapprove of the General Assembly’s inaction, at least the process was transparent. Your list documents the very point I was making,

      (2) So, you disapprove of the General Assembly’s inaction. Does that justify McAuliffe’s unconstitutional action? Have you joined the camp of those who say, well, the other side refuses to cooperate. I’ve got a phone, and I’ve got a pen, and I’ll just rule through executive decree?

      • Jim:

        The process was not transparent. Many of the decisions to table the legislation were done by voice vote – a truly cowardly and opaque act. Nothing should happen by voice vote. Ever.

        Real transparency would come from the General Assembly agreeing to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. We could then transparently see what the voters of Virginia wanted to do about this matter. Consistently denying the voters their chance to make their wishes known over more than a decade is not transparent at all. It is indicative of a small group of elites preventing the exercise of actual democracy.

        I have no problem with McAuliffe’s attempt to rectify the situation nor with the court shutting him down. The system worked. The executive tried an action which the judiciary found to exceed his stated power. If the same kinds of checks and balances were applied to the General Assembly we’d have a functional state instead of the train wreak that is Virginia. For example, what is that same GA-appointed court going to do about the General Assembly’s clear violation of the state constitution’s requirement for compact and contiguous voting districts?

        • Don – how dare you view these issues through a leftist ideological prism!

          geezus man…

          ” Many of the decisions to table the legislation were done by voice vote – a truly cowardly and opaque act. Nothing should happen by voice vote. Ever.”

          exactly right – no question

          oh wait….

          ” The process is transparent, and the public will have a chance to weigh in.
          ……
          But we really won’t know for sure until we subject the proposal to the legislative process. It’s called democracy. Some people still believe in the concept.”

          Calling what the Virginia General Assembly does “democracy” (with a little d as Jim correctly used it) – is
          a joke if there ever was one!!!!

          and coming from such an otherwise severe critic of the govt, transparency and accountability – truly bizarre!!!

          How many legislative proposals have NEVER made it out of the vaunted Va General Assembly committees nor had a recorded vote ?

          these are the folks that Jim is asserting – have more “honor” and “legitimacy” than the Gov – who did act transparently – and now, according to the Va GA-appointed Supreme Court – is within his authority per what is actually written in the Constitution – not just figments in the minds of those who have their own beliefs about what is or is not in the Constitution .

          that sure seems to be an occupational disease these days with folks who say on one hand – they are “strict” Constitutionalists then .. on the other hand – depending on te issue – take over the job of the Supreme Court and determine for themselves what the Constitution meant to say ….

          So now that the Supreme Court HAS ruled – the argument is that “progressives” support “Unconstitutional” actions by the Gov – who was just ruled as correct in the Constitution.

          so …soon… we will hear from Conservatives that they will have to get “true” Conservatives on the Supreme Court not pretenders…..

          and of course – the deed will be done by one of the least transparent and accountable State legislatures in the country.

          Alice in Wonderland Politics, it is..

          Reinventing Virginia for the 21st Century. 😉

    • Don – you are assuming that there is a responsibility on the part of the GA or Congress to pass legislation. There isn’t. Good arguments can be made for and against allowing felons to vote after completing their sentence, probation, paying fines and any restitution. Similarly, good arguments can be made for and against allowing those same people to possess a firearm. And reasonable people can disagree on the merits of both issues.

      There is no obligation on the part of any legislative body to pass any particular legislation except a budget. Indeed, the system of checks and balances, along with a bicameral legislature creates a systematic bias against passing legislation. It should be somewhat difficult to add, repeal or modify laws. Similarly, the requirement for a constitutional amendment to pass two consecutive sessions of the GA and then be approved by a majority of the voters voting on the question makes it more challenging to alter the constitution. And, since that is the fundamental law of the state, it should be difficult.

      The American system of government is working as intended.

      As far as compact legislative districts are concerned, that went to the side of the road with the federal Voting Rights Act, which authorizes (mandates) gerrymandering to ensure black representation in state legislatures and the federal House of Representatives. And I think federal law trumps the state constitution in this area.

      • The american system of government is not in question here. It is the Virginia system of government – which is decidedly un-American. Jim contends that the latest proposal from yet another General Assembly member will somehow give the public a right to weigh in. Nothing could be further from the truth. Proposals have been put forward for 13 years by the General Assembly. The GA could care less what the public thinks. The best approach to letting the public weigh in would be to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

        Your contention that it is federal law causing the distortion of Virginia’s voting districts is wrong. The pending lawsuit specifically calls out mis-shapen districts that do not fall under any relevant provision of federal law relating to voting rights. The simple truth is that almost none of Virginia’s voting districts are compact and those districts are changed every ten years based far more by political whim than any federal law. The re-jiggering of Virginia Senate districts in Northern Virginia to keep Janet Howell safe in her seat is a classic example of the General Assembly ignoring the state constitution in order to further noncompetitive elections and to help thwart the essence of American democracy.

        Your opinions are representative of a minority of conservative Northern Virginia residents who hope that an over-powered General Assembly, hewing to largely rural interests, will prevent Northern Virginians from having the liberty of living their lives as they choose. That was never the way the American government was meant to work. The GA-as-all-controlling-politburo would be much more in step with Soviet style government than American style government.

        The latest absurdity in Virginia’s ass backwards system of government involves a statue of a Confederate soldier in Alexandria. The City Council wants to take the statue off the street and move it to a museum. The vote was unanimous in favor of this action. However, they are precluded from action unless and until The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond gives its permission to move the statue. Why should some General Assembly member from a 95% white district in rural Virginia have any right to veto what the City Council of Alexandria has decided to do with the location of a Confederate memorial?

        TMT – I am probably as conservative as you are. I just can’t agree to use a mis-shapen political system to foist my conservative values on my neighbors. The concepts of liberty and democracy trump my personal political views. Always have. Always will. When I support greater local autonomy for Northern Virginia I know full well that it will mean a more liberal set of laws, rules and regulations in Northern Virginia. So be it. It’s more important that people be able to live their lives as they choose than that my political perspective be promulgated through un-democratic means.

        • Don – your argument seems to be if Virginia had a different style of government, things would be different. And if California had a different style of government, it too would be different.

          There is no such thing as local sovereignty in the United States. Cities and counties have only the authority given to them by the state constitutions and statutes. Even home rule counties and cities have only the authority that they are given. 30 plus years ago when I was moving to D.C. from Iowa, a few of my new co-workers suggested I move to Virginia as local government powers are limited and, as such, taxes will be lower. I took that advice. If a resident of Fairfax County wants to live where there is more local power and higher taxes, Maryland welcomes with open arms. Why does every state have to be the same? It doesn’t.

          Virginia is a weak governor, strong legislature state. So does Mississippi, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. What is wrong with that? Strong governor states include Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. What’s wrong with that?

          Moreover, as I learned years ago from Janet Howell, Fairfax County has many more powers than it is willing to use. It, for example, gives developers a 50% discount on school costs for proffers and excludes all land costs. Other jurisdictions don’t do that. So why is that the fault of the GA? Yet, I’ve heard School and County officials say the Dillon Rule prevents them from recovering capital costs for schools from proffers.

          Until recently, the only tool FCPS used to identify non-resident students for tuition purposes was to send out postcards to the student’s last known address. If the card came back, the Schools investigated. At the same time, the Schools are aware that many students not eligible for county tuition are attending public schools. Why is that the fault of the GA?

          Fairfax County has the statutory authority to obtain inspection warrants from a magistrate when it has probable cause that there is an illegal boarding house in a community and they have been denied entrance. But in the 3 plus years the authority has been on the books, the County has never requested an inspection warrant. How is that the fault of the GA?

          A few years ago I had coffee with a Democratic state delegate – no conservative he. I asked him what he thought of the Dillon Rule. He said he might vote to weaken it on administrative matters, but would never vote for home rule. He feared local government would adopt lots of additional regulations on business if the rule were weakened generally.

          All and all, the Dillon Rule and the weak Governor-strong Legislature works just fine. If it didn’t why does MWCOG (Council of Governments) continue to forecast that most job growth out to 2040 will be on the Virginia side of the River?

          • Mississippi, South Carolina and Rhode Island are your poster states for a strong implementation of Dillon’s Rule?

            Mississippi is America’s poorest state. South Carolina is America’s eighth poorest state.

            What state is America’s richest state? That terrible place on “the other side of the river” – Maryland.

            A strong implementation of Dillon’s Rule creates state government corruption, incompetence and over-reach. America hasn’t been a homogeneous rural – centered country in well over a century. A strong implementation of Dillon’s Rule ignores the massive regional differences that have arise within states over the last 125 years. The simpleton states that try to live in the late 1800s impoverish their residents while those that modernize enrich their residents.

            I also see you have dropped your argument that it was the Voting Rights Act that prevents Virginia from having compact and contiguous voting districts. That’s probably good since that argument is almost entirely bullshit. The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond simply ignores the state constitution when it is convenient to do so. That’s what happens with an over-powered legislature. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The absolute power of our General Assembly is absolutely corrupt.

          • Don – Maryland is a Dillon Rule state, albeit with home rule provisions, which, of course, are limited by the authority given by the legislature. The leading case is Montgomery Citizens League v. Greenhalgh, 252 A.2d 242 (Md. 1969). “Finally, it should be kept in mind that our predecessors have adopted and we still adhere to the ‘Dillon’ Rule that municipal corporations have no inherent police power and they have only such powers as have been expressly delegated to them or are necessarily or fairly implied in or are incident to the powers expressly granted, or are ‘essential to the declared objects and purposes of the municipal corporations, not simply convenient, but indispensable.”

            “It is equally well settled that any fair and reasonable doubt as to the existence of the power attempted to be exercised must be resolved against the corporation, and in such case the power must be denied.”

            The Maryland Municipal League’s website mentions that: “Finally, Home Rule means that all municipalities – within the grant of powers provided by the Maryland State Constitution and the Annotated Code of Maryland – may exercise all applicable powers and make changes to their local charter on a strictly local basis. They need not seek legislative permission from the General Assembly to do anything the Maryland State Constitution or the Annotated Code permits. However, the authority of municipalities is conditioned, first, by the specific powers that the legislature grants and, second, by a widely accepted interpretation of that grant of power, known as the Dillon Rule.”

  16. re: “progressives” and those who essentially say any executive action they don’t agree with – even ones the Supreme Court say are valid – is “Unconstitutional”… even if it’s not actually in the Constitution.

    In other words the Constitution is what Conservatives BELIEVE it SHOULD BE!!

    “There is no obligation on the part of any legislative body to pass any particular legislation except a budget. Indeed, the system of checks and balances, along with a bicameral legislature creates a systematic bias against passing legislation. It should be somewhat difficult to add, repeal or modify laws. ”

    That’s patently just on a different planet – a different universe – and if it’s true then why is the VA GA , NOW -attempting to pass laws – that 45 other states enacted – years ago AFTER they used political money – not state money – to go to the Supreme court to challenge the Gov?

    like I said – Conservatives these days -seem to want to define what IS or IS “legal” based on what they BELIEVE – and nowhere is this more apparent in their disagreement with the Courts when the courts rule against them – that, in fact, – the Courts have the “wrong” people on them – the same folks that were “right” when they ruled in favor for them. This is why you hear some Conservatives actually want to have the courts – appointed for fixed terms so they can be removed if they are not ruling in the way that some folks believe they should.

    This is like – if you went out of your way to design a purposeful losing strategy – this is how you operate – and that’s how things are playing out these days.

    • Larry – is it your contention that a state is required to restore voting rights to felons after they have completed their sentences and any probation, as well as paid any fines and/or restitution? If so, where does that requirement come from?

      Does the requirement include violent felons? If not, why not? Does the requirement include those convicted of voter or election fraud? If not, why not?

      • TMT – I think what 45 other states have done is a reasonable benchmark .

        I don’t know where you are getting this election/voter fraud from.

        is there a big problem in this area?

        would you – for any particular crime – lifetime ban someone from ..say writing checks before they were convicted of forgery?

        or going into a store because they had been convicted or shoplifting?

        in terms of “violent” – again I’m happy with a standard used in other places but on a personal view basis – I mean “violent” as in murder or rape but not one time domestic violence or some other one-off charge…

        People make mistakes – they deserve a chance to make a go of the rest of their lives except for the most violent… or those who repeat and have a pattern.

        but in addition – fair treatment of the races with regard to any/all charges.. and convictions which is part of the issue with the current treatment of felons… it goes back to a time when “violent” was not the standard.. it was “felon” and people could be convicted of all manner of non-violent “felonies” and in much greater percentages for some races than others.

        You should want to rectify this rather than opposing it and giving reasons for your opposition.

        be in favor of it -with provisos – right now – support change now – …. with limitations … do the right thing.

        • Larry, what “45 other states” have done is all over the map. There are states that allow felons in prison to vote. I believe that is Vermont and Maine. D.C. and 14 states allow the felon to vote once he/she has completed the term of imprisonment. Four states require parole to be completed, and other 19 allow voting sometime after any probation period has ended.

          Eight other states, including Virginia, tie the ban and the process of the ban to the circumstances of the crime. Finally, three states require an individual petition to the governor.

          So how many states having revised laws from a strict ban triggers a requirement for another state to change its laws? And to what version of a revised law? In other words, which state(s) is Virginia required to mirror? Does the same trigger apply to other laws. Does Washington State have to adopt an income tax because most states have it? How many more states must enact right to work laws before every state must also enact such a law?

          Also, note the U.S. Constitution through the 14th Amendment provides that states can adopt their own rules for disenfranchisement of individuals for “for participation in rebellion, or other crime.”

          If I were in the GA, I would likely vote for the proposed amendment patroned by Del. Greg Habeeb. I think it would be a positive change in public policy, allowing non-violent offenders easy restoration of voting rights after they have completed all aspects of punishment and, if required, restitution to the victim(s), while requiring a more deliberate potential path for violent felons.

  17. TooManyTaxes:

    Why do Larry and Peter believe it is OK to violate legislative procedures?

    Larry is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but one must consider context. As I have said, Virginia has long had a rigged system of government designed to keep decision making power in the hands of a small cabal of white guys. Everything from off year elections,to nominating processes, to the infamous, to new voter ID laws and so on is specifically designed to keep voter turnout low and the public as far out of the process as possible. So, with gerrymandering, you get white guys from 95 percent white districts out in the boonies (as DonR says) getting oversized power to stifle any positive reform.

    It’s legal. So are executive orders. McAuliffe got shot down but most recently won.

    Who are you to say that the obstructionists always have the law on their side? If that want to play that way, so can the other side.

    • Peter – the problem with your argument is that you assume certain specific results are necessary and appropriate. But that is a value judgment. For example, I think showing an ID before voting is fair and reasonable so long as the state provides access to an ID free of charge. Why should legitimate voters be required to risk dilution of their votes by ineligible voters?

      As I’ve written below, a couple years ago, we were helping my son move into his dorm at ODU. A couple of Democratic activists were trying to register voters. A number of students said either “they vote at home and want to vote at home” or they were nonresidents of Virginia. The response was it’s no big deal. You can vote more than once. I should have called a cop, but we were busy. Do you find this acceptable?

      My daughter went to NC State as a non-resident student. Her drivers license was from Virginia. She was registered to vote in Virginia. She filed tax returns from Virginia. Should she have been permitted to waltz up to the voting booth in N.C. and show her student ID and vote?

      Democrats want to be able to drive through the streets on election day, pick up people who may or may not be eligible to vote, promise them a free meal and have them vote for the “Holy Candidates.”

      There is a right to vote. But there is an equal right not to have your vote diluted by illegal voters.

  18. I am still unconvinced there is a mass epidemic of voter fraud. I know there are some legitimate issues, such as what happens when you are in the military, own property near a base, get posted overseas and then come back. Do you vote in your home of record state or where you have property.

    Also, your ODU anecdote paints Democratic activists as the bad guys. Could they be wrong in this case? Possibly. But one case is not a fraud epidemic.

    What is wrong is a centuries’ long practice of using many tricks to keep African-Americans, women and others from voting.

    • Peter – often a major purpose of a statute is to prevent bad things from happening. A statute that discourages voter fraud is likely a successful statute. If Virginia has low voter fraud, the laws are working.

      The Army advises soldiers to vote where their domicile/legal residence is and not just where they reside. http://www.aschq.army.mil/supportingdocs/Legal%20Residence%20and%20Domicile%20Explained.pdf

      Of course one can change one’s domicile. After graduation, my daughter changed her legal residence from Virginia to North Carolina. She not only resided there, but works there full time, got a NC drivers license, titled her car in NC, and registered to vote.

      When I moved to Virginia from Iowa in 1984, I voted in Iowa absentee because I had not yet moved my possessions, still owned a house in Des Moines, had an Iowa drivers licenses, etc, even though I was working in D.C. and had a contract to buy a house in Arlington. I think I followed the rules.

      With all due respect, I think your comment on blacks and women not being able to vote borders on racism and sexism. Why do you believe that African Americans and women cannot navigate the voting system? I’ve seen both at the polls on election day, absentee voting in person, and picking up absentee ballot applications. Fairfax County provides absentee voting opportunities six days a week and by mail.

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