PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Advocacy group Nolef Turns is taking aim at Governor Glenn Youngkin’s new policy that could slow down the restoration of rights of convicted felons who want to vote, serve on juries and serve as notary publics.

The case, now before a Richmond Federal Court, is designed to block the new policy, which is now under fire from the courthouse to the statehouse.

Senate pro tempore, Louise Lucas has figuratively and literally trashed several Youngkin proposals. She says his restoration of rights rollback is next.

“Oh, it is definitely headed for the trashcan; we are going to go to work on it as soon as we get back,” said Lucas, from her office in Portsmouth.

Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas speaks with WAVY from her office in Portsmouth, Virginia on April 7, 2023.

Without informing the public in advance, a decade-long policy used by Democrats and a Republican governor that essentially automatically restored some felons’ rights was scrapped for an application and review process.

Governor Youngkin discussed the change in an interview with 10 Your Side one day before the suit was filed.

WAVY Reporter Chris Horne: Is the review process an obstruction to voting rights?

Gov. Glenn Youngkin: “No I think the review process is a thorough individual process in order for people to have their full second chance. There was a 2016[Virginia] Supreme Court ruling that said that every single felon who is now being released deserved and should have their case reviewed individually, so that’s what we do. That’s what the Constitution requires; that’s what the Supreme Court says I have to do and I am committing to doing it,” said Youngkin following an event to celebrate the opening of a manufacturing operation in Norfolk.

State Senator Lucas, who has worked with Democrats and a Republican Governor on the rights restoration issue wants the previous policy written into law.

“We will have bipartisan support on this because the only people who are incarcerated are not just Black and brown people,” said Lucas, who remembers colored and white only signs on the bathrooms of Norfolk Naval Shipyard where she worked as a shipfitter in 1967.

In one of only two states with voting restrictions on felons, the Senate pro tempore says Youngkin is trying to burnish his conservative credentials at the expense of people who want their voices heard in state federal, and local elections.

“Yes, he is trying to take us back to the Jim Crow era and even farther back if it can. But if I have to follow him all over this country to make people know exactly who he is, I promise you I will do that,” Lucas said.

The suit filed Thursday says the Youngkin process is “purely discretionary and arbitrary. Filed on behalf of convicted felon Gregory Williams, the suit says the new process is a violation of the First Amendment. Williams has completed his sentence and has a pending restoration application. State Senator Lionell Spruill, who will face off with Lucas in a June Democratic Primary for a newly drawn district, has contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth for details on the Governor’s criteria for the restoration of rights. Spruill last week told 10 On Your Side the Secretary’s answers were insufficient.

A week later when 10 On Your Side requested details on the new restoration process, there was no response from the Secretary of the Commonwealth, whose office is charged with processing the applications. A spokesperson for the Governor would not provide details on the new restoration process, but on Friday, spokesperson Macaulay Porter offered a sentence on the litigation.

“The process is constitutional and will be defended vigorously in court,” said Porter.