RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) Monday announced that House and Senate Republicans have retained attorney Charles J. Cooper to challenge Governor Terence R. McAuliffe’s (D) order restoring the civil rights of over 206,000 convicted felons. Mr. Cooper is a founding partner and chairman of Cooper & Kirk PLLC and a nationally recognized litigator and appellate attorney.
“Governor McAuliffe adopted an unprecedented view of executive authority and exceeded the powers granted to him by the Constitution of Virginia when he issued the order restoring the rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons,” said Speaker Howell. “It is the obligation of the legislative and judicial branches to serve as a check on overreaches of executive power. To that end, we are prepared to uphold the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law by challenging Governor McAuliffe’s order in court.
“We have retained Attorney Charles J. Cooper to challenge the Governor’s order. Mr. Cooper is an experienced attorney with over 35 years of public and private practice experience. An Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, he has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court. The National Law Journal named Mr. Cooper one of the 10 best civil litigators in Washington. He will immediately begin developing the best path to challenge the Governor’s action as quickly as possible. Our goal is to challenge this order and to win, and that means we must act with due diligence as we prepare to move forward. Taxpayer funds will not be used for this lawsuit.”
“Governor McAuliffe’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of must not go unchecked,” said Majority Leader Norment. “His predecessors and previous attorneys general examined this issue and consistently concluded Virginia’s governor does not have the power to issue blanket restorations. By doing so now with the acknowledged goal of affecting the November election, he has overstepped the bounds of his authority and the constitutional limits on executive powers.
“We have retained Mr. Cooper to examine the legal options to remedy this Washington-style overreach by the executive branch. Mr. Cooper is an extremely qualified attorney and we have every confidence he will proceed prudently, judiciously, and expeditiously.”
Biography of Charles J. Cooper
Charles J. Cooper is a founding member and chairman of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC. Named by The National Law Journal as one of the 10 best civil litigators in Washington, he has over 35 years of legal experience in government and private practice, with several appearances before the United States Supreme Court and scores of other successful cases on both the trial and appellate levels.
Shortly after serving as law clerk to Judge Paul Roney of the Fifth (now Eleventh) Circuit Court of Appeals, and to Justice (later Chief Justice) William H. Rehnquist, Mr. Cooper joined the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1981. In 1985 President Reagan appointed Mr. Cooper to the position of Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Cooper reentered private practice in 1988, as a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of McGuire Woods. From 1990 until the founding of Cooper & Kirk in 1996, he was a partner at Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge where he headed the firm’s Constitutional and Government Litigation Group.
Mr. Cooper’s practice is national in scope and is concentrated in the areas of constitutional, commercial, and civil rights litigation. He is currently representing private clients in a variety of commercial cases, including antitrust, intellectual property, and contract disputes. Mr. Cooper also represents a number of state and local government bodies, as well as private clients, in a wide range of constitutional and federal statutory cases.
In 1998 Mr. Cooper was appointed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to serve as a member of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Mr. Cooper is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and he has spoken and published extensively on a wide variety of constitutional and legal policy topics.