Is it unconstitutional to forbid felons the right to vote? (Johna TOPIC 2)

Is it unconstitutional to forbid felons the right to vote?
Throughout American history there have been numerous court cases which concerned the right for felons to vote. Several of the more famous court cases are Thiess vs. State Administrative Board of Election Laws, Hunter vs. Underwood, Richardson vs. Ramirez, Farrakhan vs. State of Washington, and Madison vs. Washington. The issue of taking voting rights from felons is most often associated with the VIII, XIV, XV, and the XXIV Amendments. There has always been a large population of African Americans “doing time.” The act of declaring felons unable to vote has sometimes been viewed as a method of racial discrimination. Many of the Amendments put in place were created to protect minorities, such as African Americans, from discrimination. Jason G. Morgan Foster, a researcher at New York University School of Law stated that the felon disenfranchisement contradicted numerous phrases in the Constitution.
Yes it is unconstitutional to deny felons the right to vote. Even though they have committed crimes, they are still American citizens. Everyone deserves a second chance. Starting with the Reconstruction of the South after the American Civil War, African Americans have become a major target for discrimination. Many African Americans were denied their right to vote by being imprisoned. In a utopian world it would make sense to take away the right to vote from those who obviously have no interest in the law, however in this flawed world we cannot be as naïve.
Amendment VIII (ratified 1791) Amendment XIV (ratified 1868) Amendment XV(ratified 1870)
Jason G. Morgan-Foster, JD, Researcher at New York University School of Law, stated in his 2006 article “The Transnational Judicial Discourse and Felon Disenfranchisement: Re-examining the Textual Premise of Richardson v. Ramirez,” published in the Tulsa Journal Comparative & International Law: “Interestingly, it appears that, like the international context, the Framers [of the U.S. Constitution] also viewed disenfranchisement along a continuum, intending the phrase ‘or other crime’ to apply only to crimes of rebellion or disloyalty to the state, such as treason. […] [W]e should care about felon disenfranchisement because it inherently contradicts the rest of our constitutional jurisprudence on the right of every citizen to vote. This article has suggested that it is time to re-examine the original textual premise of the Ramirez decision that section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment affirmatively sanctions felon disenfranchisement.”
Gabriel J. Chin, JD, LLM, Professor of Law, Public Administration, and Policy at the University of Arizona, stated in his Jan. 2004 article “Reconstruction, Felon Disenfranchisement, and the Right to Vote: Did the Fifteenth Amendment Repeal Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment?,” published in the Georgetown Law Journal: “Felon disenfranchisement has tremendous effects on the political landscape – leading researchers report that felon disenfranchisement ‘may have altered the outcome of as many as seven recent U.S. Senate elections and one



Filed under Controversial Issue #2

2 responses to “Is it unconstitutional to forbid felons the right to vote? (Johna TOPIC 2)

  1. Morgan Gilberti

    I agree with your claim that not allowing felons to vote is unconstitutional. Many believe that felons should not vote because those who have committed crimes are “unwilling to follow the law [therefore] cannot claim the right to make laws for the rest of us.” (Roger Clagg, PD) This should not be reasoning for not allowing them the right to vote. It is clearly stated in Section 1 of Amendment XIV (ratified in 1868): “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…” Therefore, denying felons the right to vote is unconstitutional.

  2. Kenneth Nevarez

    I agree with most of your claim, except the part where the disenfranchisement of felons would be a form of racial discrimination. Everyone is equal under the eyes of the law, or at least that’s how it should be, as John Graham Altman, III, LLB, Former Member of the South Carolina General Assembly, District 119 – Charleston (R), stated in a Feb. 2001 speech:”If it’s blacks losing the right to vote, then they have to quit committing crimes. We are not punishing the criminal. We are punishing conduct.”

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