RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced that, following a thorough legal review of the case, he will commute the death sentence of Ivan Teleguz to life imprisonment without parole. Teleguz’s request for a pardon will be denied. Teleguz was convicted in the murder-for-hire of Stephanie Yvonne Sipe in July 2001. He was scheduled to be executed on April 25.
Announcing his decision at the Virginia State Capitol today, Governor McAuliffe delivered the following statement (as prepared):
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. I am joined today by my Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, and my Counsel, Carlos Hopkins, both of whom have devoted countles
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli while at Precision Steel in Roanoke today was quizzed on the U. S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the requirement for preclearance when making election changes in certain jurisdiction having a history of voter discrimination. Virginia is one of those jurisdictions.
Cuccinelli said that it means “we don’t have to get permission from the federal government. That still means we still have to comply, as we still all want to, with nondiscrimination in terms of our elections.”
Cuccinelli said going back to congress to redo the formula or maps on which areas still need preclearance is “a pretty dicey proposition.” That would require bringing in a lot of evidence jurisdiction by jurisdiction to demonstrate institutional bigotry that is affecting elections he said.
He further thought that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act can take care of any discrimination claims. The black voter suppression of 50 years no longer exists in Virginia – “we have grown out of that,” said Cuccinelli. He pointed to Virginia electing a black governor in Doug Wilder and President Obama winning Virginia twice as proof that Virginia no longer discriminates.
“I don’t think we have institutional bigotry like we had 50 years ago in Virginia. So I don’t think we need to go to the federal government to get permission to make changes to our election laws.”
Leaving it to Virginia’s governor, attorney general and general assembly is very appropriate he said. “There is always the Section 2 backup to enforce nondiscrimination. Human nature is what it is and we are never going to reach perfection in that regard and we’ll always have to be on guard for what discrimination creeps in.”
His opponent Terry McAuliffe said of the SCOTUS decision: “I am disappointed to see the Supreme Court strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act today. For 48 years this important piece of legislation has protected the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Virginians. This legislation was actually one of the few bipartisan accomplishments in Washington in recent years when it was reauthorized and signed into law by George Bush in 2006 by a vote of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House.
“Unlike my opponent [Ken Cuccinelli], I believe that, while we have made progress, protections are still necessary to ensure that Virginians are allowed to exercise their right to vote without the risk of disenfranchisement. As Governor I will work to ensure that all eligible Virginians are able to make their voices heard in our democracy. I agree with Governor Bob McDonnell that Congress must act to draft new language and rectify this decision.”
Roanoke City Councilman Sherman Lea sent out an email saying: ” I feel today’s decision severely undermines the legal protections that have been vital for almost 50 years, protecting voters of all nationalities. I feel some states will take the position that preclearance is no longer required. In recent years it is evident that Virginia along with several other states have been consistent in creating obstacles for many of its citizens to vote. Even though it is a discouraging day for many citizens along with civil rights organizations it is my hope that the congress will take the appropriate action to restore the power of Section 4. It is important to remember that a “padlock was put on the tool box to keep the honest people honest.”