CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Chapter of the NAACP and its supporters are calling for the removal and disbarment of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for his participation in a lawsuit that called into the question the integrity of votes cast in other states during the 2020 General Election.
The WV NAACP put out a press release and held a virtual press conference Tuesday to detail their concerns and plan of action.
The organization called Morrisey’s actions “racist, unethical and un-American efforts to disenfranchise voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.”
On Dec. 9, 2020, Morrisey, a Republican, entered West Virginia into a lawsuit intended to undermine the U.S. Constitution and to violate the 15th Amendment of the Constitution that gave Black Americans citizenship and the right to vote, the NAACP’s press release said.
“Attorney General Morrisey has shown he will not fulfill his obligation to provide fair and equal justice for citizens of all races in West Virginia,” the release said. “Attorney General Patrick Morrisey must be removed from office and barred from practicing law.
“WV legislators who support equal justice will present a resolution calling for Attorney General Morrisey’s removal and disbarment in the upcoming legislative session,” the release said.
The NAACP’s release also included statements from WV NAACP officials, state lawmakers and others. Many condemned involving West Virginia in a lawsuit they feel was meant to disenfranchise voters, especially minority voters, in other states who did not support Republican candidates. They viewed the attempt as a means of undermining the electoral process and disenfranchise millions of voters as well as part of the reason the U.S. Capitol was stormed last week by pro-Trump supporters who felt the election was being unduly taken from their candidate
“The WV NAACP contends that WV State Attorney General Morrisey’s action by joining in the lawsuit in trying to overturn the presidential election was intended to disenfranchise the Black votes in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia,” said Owens Brown, WV NAACP State President.
In Tuesday’s press conference, conducted via Zoom, Brown said Morrisey’s actions attempted to violate the constitutional rights of United States citizens. The states targeted in this “illegal and unethical” lawsuit were all states where minority voters helped deliver the victory to President-Elect Joe Biden and removing those votes would have subverted the election process and help deliver a victory to President Donald Trump, he said.
“The indirect ulterior motive of the 17 state Attorney Generals, in an attempt to achieve their goals, was the nullification of millions of Black citizens’ votes in the cities of Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta,” Brown said. “The West Virginia NAACP contends it was a direct assault on the 15th Amendment of the United States Constitution that gave Black people the right to vote.”
Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, felt the lawsuit Morrisey was a part of involved the state in “a frivolous attempt” to undermine the electoral process.
“He knew this case was going nowhere but chose to waste public funds and precious time to appeal to his base and perpetuate a lie – a lie that eventually led to violence in our nation’s Capitol,” he said in the press release.
During the press conference, Pushkin said he stands with the WV NAACP “in their rebuke to this dangerous and ridiculous political stunt that our Attorney General involved us in as a state.”
Pushkin, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he was involved in the impeachment of former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry and it is not something he enjoyed.
He felt Morrisey wanted to overturn the will of many voters in four states. Pushkin also felt Morrisey involved the state in a matter where it had no standing in regards to how other states conduct their elections.
“It is a serious endeavor,” Pushkin said of the process of removing someone.
He wants to submit the resolution in the West Virginia House of Delegates when they go into session next month. The process would start in the judiciary committee where an investigation would be started.
Delegate Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, said in the press release Morrissey does not represent West Virginian values, has violated his oath of office, and should be removed and disbarred.
“West Virginians deserve an Attorney General who works to solve the serious problems we face -injustices in housing, property rights, criminal and racial justice and other areas – not a grand-stander who wastes time and tax dollars fighting to disenfranchise voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia,” she said.
During the press conference, Walker said many campaigns talked about the importance of people getting out to vote.
“Your vote is your voice and your voice is your voice,” Walker said. “What we are saying in this resolution is (Morrisey) will not shush us, you will not gag us and in your attempt we will not be silent.”
She said all Americans are represented under the stars and stripes of the American flag and pointed to a time when African-Americans were only considered 3/5ths of a person under American law until the 15th Amendment was passed.
“We need you to do your job and place West Virginians first,” Walker said.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, said she had trouble with Morrisey involving the state in a lawsuit with the aim of preventing the counting of legitimate votes of citizens from those other states.
“Attorney General Morrisey, who took an oath to uphold our constitution, must be held accountable for devaluing the most precious right of our country, the right to vote and have one’s vote counted,”‘ she said in the press release and reiterated during the press conference.
Ryan Frankenberry, West Virginia Working Families Party State Director, said his organization supports the efforts to remove Morrisey from office and to disbar him from practicing law. He mentioned points the others in the release mentioned.
“Enough is enough – Patrick Morrisey is unfit to hold the highest law enforcement office in West Virginia and must be removed,” Frankenberry said in the press release and reiterated during the press conference.
Morrisey responded to the allegations in a statement issued Tuesday, saying he felt it was his job, as Attorney General, to address and investigate these concerns in order to maintain citizen confidence in the election process.
“I strongly condemned violence at the U.S. Capitol as it happened Jan. 6 and continue to do so,” Morrisey said. “It’s absolutely wrong for these radical, far-left delegates and their allies to make allegations out of thin air and try to politicize the death of a brave law enforcement official and other individuals.
“Our December brief sought to fully investigate allegations that several states had not properly interpreted their own laws as they conducted their elections. It’s absolutely appropriate for a state attorney general to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to get the law right – holding free and fair elections should be one of the most important goals of our republic. That’s what that brief focused on.”
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