(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday restored voting rights to 13,000 felons, circumventing a court ruling and defying objections to his earlier attempts from Republican legislators.
"We’re not going to waste any time about arguing about the old Virginia way," McAuliffe, a Democrat, said while making the announcement at the Civil Rights Memorial on Capitol Square in Richmond.
"Let me put this in plain English: We will proceed," he said.
The move comes after Republicans and the Supreme Court of Virginia stopped his earlier wide-ranging clemency effort. His original executive order was issued in April and it would have restored voting rights to about 200,000 felons who had served their sentences.
Republicans were upset that the order included both violent and nonviolent offenders -- en masse instead of case by case -- and accused the governor of trying to add voters to the registration rolls before November's presidential election in a bid to help Hillary Clinton, his longtime friend and political ally.
Virginia GOP leaders took McAuliffe to court and defeated his plan. The court ordered the state to put the felons’ names back on its list of banned voters.
"The Virginia Constitution is clear,” he said. “I have the authority to restore civil rights without limitation."
McAuliffe on Monday said he was restoring the rights of 13,000 felons after reviewing each of their cases individually and will continue to seek ways to provide the same rights to more felons, calling it "an issue of basic justice."
"I personally believe in the power of second chances," McAuliffe said.
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