Furthermore, it is no more discriminatory to deny felons their franchise than to deny them certain categories of employment, child custody or gun ownership.
Lawsuits have been filed to overturn the laws that bar felons from voting in the states of Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Washington.
Florida's law permits felons to regain their voting rights by executive clemency and Florida's department of corrections has agreed to assist felons navigate the restoration process. Officials estimate that 130,000 Florida felons will soon be empowered to vote, but Democrats are still going forward with their lawsuit.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by a 2-1 vote reversed a District Court ruling in December and ordered a trial on the race allegations in Florida, even though the plaintiffs presented no evidence of racial animus. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court decision was written by one of Clinton's most controversial nominees, Judge Rosemary Barkett.
The dissenting opinion in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court case pointed out that the 14th Amendment, Section 2, "explicitly allows states to disenfranchise convicted felons." Furthermore, the dissent explained, in the time when Florida adopted the rule against voting by felons, no "disparate impact" on minorities existed, so there could not have been bias in the adoption of the rule.
A U.S. District Court in Spokane, Wash., dismissed a case brought by prison inmates, but the liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court sent Farrakhan vs. State of Washington back for trial. The felons want the law overturned because blacks make up 37 percent of the felons denied the franchise.
New Jersey allows felons to vote after they complete their incarceration, parole or probation, but that doesn't please Democrats. Ten ex-convicts, including a convicted killer, are suing to void the state law, because 81 percent of the prison population, 75 percent of parolees and 52 percent of probationers are black or Hispanic.
These plaintiffs are backed by the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at the Rutgers University School of Law, the New Jersey State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey and the ACLU.
The U.S. Constitution reserves the matter of voting regulations to state legislatures and specifically authorizes the disenfranchisement of felons. We should not permit activist judges to change the laws.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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