Joseph D. Morrissey, a former delegate from Henrico County running for the state Senate, has filed suit in Richmond Circuit Court, asking for a review of 750 petition signatures the Democratic Party of Virginia rejected last week, making him ineligible for the party’s June primary. Morrissey also is seeking a preliminary injunction, asking the court to prevent printing of the ballots, “in order to vindicate the rights of a candidate to appear on a ballot and the rights of citizens to participate in political speech,” according to the complaint filed Monday. “This getting on the ballot isn’t about me; it’s about a system that the Democratic Party is supporting that consistently disenfranchises thousands of African-American voters and deprives them of their First Amendment rights,” Morrissey said in an interview Wednesday.
The 16th Senate District, where Morrissey is seeking the Democratic nomination, is heavily Democratic and has a high proportion of black voters. The district includes Petersburg and Hopewell; part of Richmond; and parts of Chesterfield, Prince George and Dinwiddie counties.
“Leaders in the Democratic Party talk a game about expanding voting rights, but when it comes to me, right now they are not walking the game. I am determined to give the people their vote,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey charges in his complaint that Democratic Party officials have violated the First Amendment guarantees of rights to engage in political speech and to free association; 14th Amendment rights to equal protection and due process; and the 1983 Civil Rights Act. Party officials on Wednesday expressed disappointment that Morrissey has “once again run to the courts” to challenge the committee’s decision.