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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 6, 2010

FEDERAL APPEALS COURT GIVES STATE'S FELONS RIGHT TO VOTE

Legal Defense Fund - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that Washington State's law denying the vote to people with felony convictions is racially discriminatory and violates the Voting Rights Act. . .

The Court found "compelling" evidence that "in the total population of potential 'felons' . . . minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained, and ultimately prosecuted. If those decision points are infected with racial bias, resulting in some people becoming felons not just because they have committed a crime, but because of their race, then that felon status cannot, under section 2 of the VRA, disqualify felons from voting." The state did not dispute this compelling evidence.

As a result of Washington's law, 24 percent of black men and 15 percent of the entire black population in Washington have lost their voting rights because of a felony conviction. Collectively, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans represent only 12% of Washington's population, but comprise 36% of the State's incarcerated population.

Nationally, more than 5.3 million Americans are denied access to the fundamental right that is preservative of all other rights. An estimated 2 million of the disfranchised, roughly 38%, are African Americans. Maine and Vermont permit prisoners to vote by absentee ballot from prison.

Seattle Weekly
[The] decision by the famously liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granting felons in Washington state the right to vote--even while in prison--is sure to be further appealed. Attorney General Rob McKenna said as much this morning.

First stop will be a larger panel of 9th Circuit judges. But the case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court--where the newest member is already on record as supporting this decision.

Sonia Sotomayor was a judge on the 2nd Circuit in 2006 when a similar case came up in New York. There, too, the plaintiffs argued that since felons are disproportionately people of color, denying them the right to vote was effectively discriminatory. The plaintiffs lost that case, as a majority of 2nd Circuit judges went against them. But Sotomayor dissented and seemed to support extending voting rights to all felons, in or out of prison.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous nintendo ds stylus said...

The issues the ruling raises about racial bias in the justice system are not unique to Washington state, said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., group promoting sentencing reform.

January 7, 2010 1:38 AM  

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