- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Virginia lawmaker who spends his nights in jail says a measure aimed at keeping pornography out of the hands of inmates would not survive legal challenges.

The bill passed with a broad majority Wednesday, but Del. Joe Morrissey’s vote against it immediately raised eyebrows with his colleagues.

Morrissey, of Henrico County, told reporters that it would have been easier on him to vote for the bill but that he believed it was unconstitutional.

“If I wanted to avoid the childish comments and petty jeers or sneers, that would have been an easy vote,” Morrissey said. “But it would not have been consistent with my oath.”

Morrissey also said he’s the only lawmaker who has taught constitutional law on two continents.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Del. R. Steven Landes, said that the bill is constitutional and that similar provisions have been passed in other states. Landes’ bill requires the director of the Department of Corrections to enforce rules prohibiting the possession of obscene material by prisoners at state facilities.

Landes said the state’s wardens have been seeking a way to prevent inmates from possessing “hard-core porn” for several years.

Morrissey is on a work-release program that allows him to spend his days at the General Assembly while confined to a Henrico County jail at night.

The 57-year-old former Democrat, now an independent, is serving time after taking a plea deal for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was accused of - but vehemently denied - having sex multiple times at his law office with a then-17-year-old girl he hired as a receptionist.

Morrissey also was indicted recently on four felony charges accusing him of forging records related to that plea deal. He’s said those charges are false.

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