ACLU Loses Appeal on Felons Voting

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of lawsuit filed by the ACLU, which claimed convicted felons in Mississippi were being denied their constitutional right to vote in presidential elections.

A Mississippi federal judge had dismissed the case last March.

A three judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Thursday the state of Mississippi can write restrictions on voting into its constitution, including to bar certain felons voting.

The ACLU contended the state constitution allows felons to vote for president, even though Mississippi residents convicted of some crimes are prohibited from casting ballots in other elections.

The 5th Circuit panel said Mississippi's law and constitution clearly ban voting by convicted felons in all elections. The ban, the panel said, does not violate federal election laws.

"We are, of course, disappointed with the opinion of the court of appeals since we read the state law as allowing felons to vote in presidential elections," said ACLU attorney Laughlin McDonald. "Among our options are to seek en banc review by the court of appeals or to petition the Supreme Court for review. But at this point we haven't determined how we will proceed."

The Mississippi Constitution lists 21 crimes that take away a convict's right to vote: arson, armed robbery, bigamy, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, forgery, larceny, murder, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, rape, receiving stolen property, robbery, theft, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, statutory rape and carjacking.

The constitution initially listed 10 crimes that would strip voting rights. Eleven other crimes were added in 2004 based on a state attorney general's opinion.

Other felonies not on the list, such as dealing drugs, don't affect voting rights.

The attorney general's office had said the constitution and a companion statute can only be interpreted that "those convicted of a disenfranchising crime are precluded from voting in any election."

Secretary Hosemann Comments on 5th Circuit Ruling Regarding Felons Voting

“I applaud the ruling," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. "It only makes sense that convicted murderers and rapists being fed at taxpayer expense should not vote on the Judge and District Attorney who placed them in prison.”

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  • by BobT. Location: Clarke Co. on Feb 26, 2010 at 04:19 PM
    Carl from Philly, you my friend are absolutely correct with that one! The aclu will stand up for thugs, perverts, sodomites, and the like....anyone but conservative law abiding citizens. Those clowns should all stop wasting time on these criminals who are just one more drain on the economy and a drain on over-taxed, under-payed, hard-working, and now furious American citizens!
  • by Overtaxed Hardworking Citizen Location: Meridian on Feb 26, 2010 at 12:17 PM
    Are you kidding me?! The ACLU actually wasted time in our overbooked court system trying to give FELONS the right to vote?! ACLU- must be affiliated with ACORN (ACLU will work on the felons while ACORN works on enrolling illegal aliens to vote- anyone else see the similarity?). Wonder who the majority of the felons are that want to vote all of a sudden... hmmm. Maybe someone is trying to up the ante for the next presidential election by adding some MORE TAX CONSUMERS to the voting pool. Sorry charlie- the American taxpayers aren't buying the __ any more!! We learned our lesson and won't let it happen again. Watch and see....
  • by Everette Location: Union on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM
    It's time The Aclu Lost acase,Covicted Felons Gave up their Rights When they Commited The Felony That They Went To Jail For,The one Whos Rights have Been Violated Is The Victims Of The Crime,I Think We Should Put More Of Them To Death And They Couldn't Sit Up In Their Cells And Eat Three meals A Day And Watch T.V. And File Their Appeals.
  • by CARL Location: PHILLY on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:47 AM
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