A Louisiana federal appeals court ruled that Mississippi could no longer strip the right to vote from ex-convicts after they have completed their sentences. The court called it a cruel and unusual punishment disproportionately affecting Black people and said it was a violation of the 8th Amendment. Mississippi’s state constitution required a lifetime removal of the right to vote for those convicted of certain crimes, including rape and murder. U.S. Circut Judge James Dennis, a Democrat, found that Mississippi’s state constitution made sure that former offenders were never actually rehabilitated. Dennis also indicated that the law was adopted post-Civil War to ensure that the system of white supremacy kept rolling along.
In a dissenting opinion, Republican U.S. Circuit Judge Edith Jones, a Reagan appointee, said that a decision by the 1974 Supreme Court established that removing the right to vote from prisoners was not a violation of the equal protection clause in the 4th Amendment. In addition, a spokesperson for the Republican Attorney General Lynn Finch said that she would look to appeal the decision of the court because of that ruling. For now, however, it is a win that many Mississippians are all too willing to take given the state’s history.
Source: Black Enterprise