Activists are invited to witness oral arguments on the restoration of voting rights in Virginia as they are argued in a lawsuit brought by civil and Human Rights Activist, Saâ€™ad El-Amin, in federal court.
On Friday, February 1, 2013, at 9:30 AM, United States District Judge John Gibney will hear oral arguments on the restoration of rights lawsuit brought by civil and Human Rights Activist, Saâ€™ad El-Amin. The hearing will be conducted in Judge Gibneyâ€™s courtroom located in the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse, 701 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219.
The case challenges the constitutionality of a provision of the Virginia Constitution, which prohibits those convicted of felonies to vote unless and until their rights have been restored by the Governor of Virginia.
In his argument El-Amin will present to the Court irrefutable evidence of Virginiaâ€™s history of disenfranchising the African-American vote beginning with Virginiaâ€™s 1869 Constitutional Convention. This history puts Virginia in the precise legal position that Alabama found itself which was on the losing side of a 1985 United States Supreme Court case, Hunter v. Underwood.
Governor McDonnell who is a principal defendant in the lawsuit recently requested the General Assembly to pass legislation for automatic restoration of the voting rights of persons convicted of nonviolent felonies. The request was rejected by the House of Delegates leaving this lawsuit as the only hope of changing the law.
The disenfranchisement provision has an adverse impact on African Americans as evidenced by the Sentencing Projectâ€™s statistical evidence that shows that 54% of the voters disenfranchised because of their felony status are African-Americans. This is a shocking and unconscionable over representation of Africans as we make up only 19% of the population.
You can find a complete description of the case including all of the documents filed in the case on El-Aminâ€™s website, restoremyvotingrights.com. We ask that as many people attend the hearing to demonstrate to Judge Gibney the strong community support for this issue.
If you plan to attend the hearing be certain to leave all electronic devices in your car because they cannot be carried into the courthouse. Also, court security will not allow you to leave them at the security checkpoint.
Sa’ad El-Amin, M.A., J.D.
Litigation Support Services
Employment Advocacy Center
24 Overbrook Road
Richmond, VA. 23222
Dear Friends and Allies,
According to the Jan 23-29 Richmond Voice newspaper:
“According to the Sentencing Project, over 450,000 individuals – about 7.3 percent of the population – are barred from exercising their right to vote in Virginia due to a felony conviction.” The articles goes on to say “The vast majority of disenfranchised persons in Virginia and the US are no longer incarcerated and are tax-paying citizens with jobs and families who are involved in their communities.”
If you can’t join us with the lawsuit, contact your district state legislators in support of constitutional amendment automatic restoration of civil/voting rights. Equally important, keep the lawsuit, the legislative agenda and the 450,000 disenfranchised Virginians in your prayers.Â Remember who, what, when, where, why and how your legislators voted and/or failed to advance lawsÂ to uplift, empower and make whole the poor, the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.
Lillie Branch-Kennedy (Ms. K)
Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD)
PO Box 55 – Highland Springs – Virginia 23075
â€śOur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.â€ť â€”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.