The whole of the United States 5e The Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from its federal courthouse in New Orleans on Wednesday morning on whether Mississippi’s lifetime ban on voting for those convicted of certain crimes is constitutional.

Federal panel decision overturning Jim Crow-era provisions of state constitution could restore the right to vote to tens of thousands of Mississippians “who have been excluded from the democratic process for life even after serving their sentences criminal law and be returned to their communities, ”said Kevin Pallasch of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC and the Mississippi Center for Justice have filed separate lawsuits challenging Mississippi’s felony voting restrictions, which were written into the state’s 1890s Constitution in an attempt to deny African Americans the right to vote, said the authors of the Constitution at the time.

Earlier this year, a panel of three judges from the 5e Circuit rejected the arguments of the consolidated lawsuits against the state. But the case was revived when the full panel agreed to hear it.

In the 1890s, the Mississippi Supreme Court declared that the denial of the right to vote of criminals had been enshrined in the Constitution “to obstruct the exercise of the right to vote by the black race” by targeting “the offenses to which its members the weakest were subjects ”. Rob McDuff, an attorney for the Center for Justice, said the intent of the provision was the same as the voting tax, literacy test and other Jim Crow-era provisions that sought to prevent Afro – Americans to vote.

The crimes enshrined in the Constitution where a conviction would cost a person the right to vote were corruption, theft, arson, obtaining money or property under false pretenses, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, bigamy and burglary. These are crimes that the perpetrators of 1890 believed African Americans were more likely to commit.

Under the original language of the constitution, a person could be convicted of cattle rustling and lose the right to vote, but those convicted of murder or rape could still vote, even while incarcerated.

In 1968, the crimes of murder and rape were added as crimes depriving the right to vote. But even today, a person could be found guilty of writing a bad check and losing the right to vote, but still be a major drug lord locked in jail and still vote. The trial does not seek to overturn the ban on voting for those convicted of murder or rape.

Under the Mississippi Constitution, a person who loses their voting rights due to a felony conviction cannot have them reinstated without a two-thirds vote from both houses of the Mississippi Legislature or by governor’s pardon. . The legislature has been reluctant to restore these rights.

It is not clear when the full panel will vote after oral argument.

The case against the state will be argued by the former solicitor general of the United States, Donald B. Verrilli.

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5th Circuit to hear arguments over state ban on voting for a crime

The entire United States The th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from its New Orleans federal courthouse on Wednesday morning on whether Mississippi’s lifetime ban on voting for those convicted of certain crimes is constitutional.

A decision by the federal panel overturning the Jim Crow-era provisions of the state constitution could restore the right to vote to tens of thousands of Mississippians “who have been excluded from the democratic process for life even after serving their vote. sentence and be returned to their community, ”said Kevin Pallasch of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The SPLC and the Mississippi Center for Justice have filed separate lawsuits challenging Mississippi’s felony voting restrictions, which were written into the state’s 1890s Constitution in an attempt to strip the vote. Am African ericans, the framers of the constitution said at the time.

Earlier this year, a panel of three judges from the 5th Circuit rejected the arguments of the consolidated lawsuits against the state. But the case was revived when the full panel agreed to hear it.

In the 1890s, the Mississippi Supreme Court declared that the denial of the right to vote of criminals had been enshrined in the Constitution “to obstruct the exercise of the right to vote by the Negro race” by targeting “the offenses to which its members the weakest were subjects ”. Rob McDuff, an attorney for the Center for Justice, said the intent of the provision was the same as the voting tax, literacy test and other Jim Crow-era provisions that sought to prevent Afro – Americans to vote.

Those crimes enshrined in the Constitution where a conviction would cost a person the right to vote were corruption, theft, arson, obtaining money or property under false pretenses, perjury, counterfeiting, embezzlement, bigamy and burglary. These were crimes that perpetrators of 1890 believed African Americans were more likely to commit.

According to the original wording of the Constitution, a person could be convicted of cattle rustling and lose the right to vote, but those convicted of murder or rape and be able to vote, even while incarcerated.

In 1968, the crimes of murder and rape were added as crimes depriving the right to vote. But even today, a person could be found guilty of writing a bad check and losing the right to vote, but still be a major drug lord locked in jail and still vote. The trial does not seek to overturn the ban on voting for those convicted of murder or rape.

Under the Mississippi Constitution, a person who loses their right to vote because of a felony conviction cannot have them reinstated without a two-thirds vote of the two chambers of the Mississippi legislature or by pardon of the governor. The legislature has been reluctant to restore these rights.

It is not clear when the full panel will vote after oral argument.

The case against the state will be argued by former United States Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli.

This item a> first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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