Skip to comments.Must inmates be allowed to vote?
Posted on 08/14/2004 1:52:24 PM PDT by schaketo
Once again in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - the same collection of activist judges in San Francisco who ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is illegal and tried to overturn California's "three strikes and you're out" law - has handed down a decision that leaves the rest of us collectively shaking our heads.
In Farrakhan v. Washington, the court found that a "statistical disproportionality" in the racial composition of prison populations constitutes a form of discrimination in violation of the 1982 Voting Rights Act. In other words, the fact that minorities are disproportionately represented in prison populations amounts to an institutional disenfranchisement of their right to vote. The only remedy for this discrimination, the court pronounced, is to allow incarcerated felons the opportunity to cast their ballots on election day - never mind that nearly all states disallow felon voting.
Congress enacted the original Voting Rights Act in 1965 to stop the practice of shutting African-Americans out of the voting booth. Under its provisions, political processes in a state or political subdivision violate federal law if, based on "the totality of the circumstances," they are not equally open to every voter. The Ninth Circuit Court has found that statistical evidence of minority over representation in the state of Washington's prison population amounts to proof that Washington's criminal disenfranchisement laws are in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Set aside for a moment the "straight face" test, which is the decision obviously fails. Stripping felons of their voting rights is explicitly endorsed in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that those convicted of "participation in a rebellion, or other crime" are removed from the population that selects congressional representatives. Furthermore, the legislative histories of both the original 1965 Voting Rights Act as well as the 1982 Act reveal that Congress never intended for either to affect disenfranchisement laws. Quite the contrary, in fact: Since 1982, Congress has passed two laws facilitating state felon disenfranchisement for federal crimes.
The Farrakhan decision is also a direct contradiction to the Ninth Circuit's own established precedent. In an opinion just seven years ago in Smith v. Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, the court stated that "a bare statistical showing of disproportionate impact on a racial minority does not [prove illegal discrimination] because causation cannot be inferred from impact alone," The plaintiffs in the Farrakhan case represented nothing more than the simple statistics of minority over representation in the prison population, convicted rates, and sentencing. There was not a shred of evidence of intentional discrimination in Washington's criminal justice system.
Thus does the Farrakhan decision lay bare the underlying agenda of a group of extremely liberal judges, as well as their willingness to do just about anything to achieve it, including disregarding their own previous inconvenient positions. There's a reason this is the most frequently overturned federal court in the United States.
Based on the logic of the Ninth Circuit opinion, unless and until the percentage of minorities in state prisons directly reflects the percentage of minorities living in the state, the felon disenfranchisement laws in effect in 48 of 50 states and stand in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
Fortunately, Congress can fix this problem by amending the Voting Rights Act to specifically exempt felon disenfranchisement laws; but we shouldn't have to spend our time constantly fixing the Ninth Circuit Court mistakes.
The headline: Must inmates be allowed to vote?
Only if liberal judges make it so.
And I would remind the reporter there is a difference between must and should.
Has Bush appointed anyone to the 9th in his term? The loon/rational quotient on that court has to be reduced.
No. Voting is a privilege. If these guys want to throw away the historical struggle of black people by going to jail, let them. I've been reading 'Judging Thomas' and to know what black people went through to even get to vote should make people stay out of jail and be upright citizens. Besides not only black people go to jail. How come they aren't worried about white males getting 'disenfranchised'?
They are thinking long term. White males are scheduled to be banned and deported by 2020.
Logic? Huh? What the.......?
Well, the problem with their decision could be remedied by massive and speedy application of capital punishment to empty the prisons. But then one would be still left with the "cemetery vote" problem, which, in all fairness, is not of Ninth Circuit's making.
Logic and the Ninth Circuit aren't generally words I'd use in the same sentence.
But then again, as another person said recently:
The truth is to Democrats what kryptonite is to Superman. They can't exist in the same room.
Problem is for a lot of people, jail is better than the streets. My father was 'disenfranchised' by going to prison when he a teenager, so there's an example of how someone white and conservative was stripped of the right to vote.
As a matter of fact 39 states allow felons to vote, 4 of which allow incarcerated felons to vote.
huh? which states are those? You'd think CA would be one of them.
They keep having to stoop lower and lower in order to justify their activism!
Currently, 46 states prohibit prisoners serving a felony sentence from voting. (The four states that permit inmates to vote are Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.) In addition, 32 states deny the vote to persons on probation and/or parole, and in 14 states a felony conviction *can* result in disenfranchisement for life. Voting in federal elections is determined by the voting laws in place in one's state of residence.
(*But not neccessarily does*)
I'm glad that you said "almost" I've never voted for a democrat in my life. I was convicted a little more than two years ago of carrying a gun. I didn't brandish it or threaten anybody with it. I simply had it.
In Illinois that's a felony. Fortunately for me Illinois still lets me vote.
If you're in jail, you lose privileges. One of those should be voting privileges.
There is a reason for this. With thousands of people of voting age in jails, those numbers could swing close elections, and having politicians pander to prisoner special interests for their votes threatens the integrity of the public offices.
It prevents the formation of a prisoner voting bloc, and you know that would happen.
And the U.S. would be turned into one big state of New Jersey!
If you haven't already joined the anti-CFR effort, please click here.
They can vote to sing the blues.
Not according to an article in the WSJ (this week?). The turnout rate of ex-cons is lower than the public in general, and those who do vote are somewhere around 70 - 80% Democrat (as I recall, I did not save the article), with the rest mostly R.
Dang! Contradictory reports, with numbers even. Sources, please, gentlemen? (FReepmail if you like -- I collect stats.)
Not always. I have the word of someone who spent time in a military brig that most of the brig inmates are conservative.
Thanks Graybeard58, I would have thought that more states would have felons removed for good. And people calls us Californians liberal fools, what is wrong with New England? Felons in jail voting, I'd say they already got their due process and be done with it.
LOL! The Democrats want the felon vote today. Robbers, rapists and murderers are such fine upstanding citizens. To deprive them of the right to vote for Democrats is a crime against humanity. The Nine Circus Clowns are in agreement what the Democrats want, they ought to get - even if it rests on a pack of lies called statistics.
I'll try to find a reference. It was a hot topic locally, when the Dems wanted to get Bush out of the Whitehouse. I thought it was funny at the time, that's why I remember.
Most believed that they voted against the Democrat Party because the Correctional Officers Association supports Democrat candidates only.
How funny. But if the FR reports on California's corrections officers' union are correct, they're not far off the mark...
I don't know how the law works in the US regarding inmates voting.
But, IMO, if you choose to break the laws of the land, and lose your liberty when caught - you should also lose your franchise. Indeed, those who commit a felony and must serve 'community service' etc. in lieu of a prison term, should also lose their franchise until their debt to society is paid.
I was taught in Civics class in high school back in the early 70's that if you were convicted of a felony that you would no longer have the right to vote.
I believe it varies from state to state.
After you have served your sentence, you can petition the court to have your voting rights re-instated.
What do you think of Washington DC wanting to grant non-citizen residents the right to vote?