The Franchise for Felons: Sotomayor Would Let Prisoners Vote

Chris Field
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Posted: May 29, 2009 1:58 PM
Turns out Sotomayor bought into the race argument that not letting felons vote was unfair to blacks and Hispanics.

From the Washington Times:
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor wants to give jailbirds the right to vote. It's her opinion that the federal Voting Rights Act can be used to force states to allow voting by currently imprisoned felons. Ms. Sotomayor's dissenting opinion in a 2006 felon-voting case should make senators extremely wary of confirming her for the high court.

In Hayden v. Pataki, a number of inmates in New York state filed suit claiming that because blacks and Latinos make up a disproportionate share of the prison population, the state's refusal to allow them ballot access amounts to an unlawful, race-based denial of their right to vote. Eight of 13 judges on the liberal-leaning Second Circuit dismissed their arguments, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled likewise in a similar case.

Yet, operating on a dubious and extremely broad reading of the Voting Rights Act, Ms. Sotomayor dissented from the decision. In a remarkably dismissive, four-paragraph opinion, she alleged that the "plain terms" of the Voting Rights Act would allow such race-based claims to go forward.
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