(TruthAndLiberty.com) – On Tuesday 19 federal appellate judges are set to hear arguments on a case relating to whether Mississippi should continue to permanently strip the voting rights of people who were convicted of certain felonies.
This case is going to determine whether or not thousands of people should be granted the right to vote again. It is unlikely that an immediate decision in this case will be made.
Last August, criminal justice advocates won an important victory when a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, ruled that the ban was in violation of the Constitution which specifically places a prohibition on “cruel and unusual” punishment. However, a few weeks later the full circuit court, which consists of 17 members vacated the previous ruling and scheduled the upcoming hearing.
State attorneys have argued that a complete voting ban is a “nonpunitive voting regulation” and that it is neither an unusual nor a cruel punishment if it is considered a punishment. The judges will be joined by two senior-status judges, who had been on the original panel in August that had ruled against the ban.
Under the Mississippi Constitution, anyone who has been convicted of certain felonies, including arson, theft, and bribery was completely stripped of the right to vote. A previous state attorney general had expanded the list of felonies to 22, leading to the inclusion of carjacking and timber larceny.
In order for people who have been convicted to have their voting rights reinstituted, they need to receive a governor’s pardon or get lawmakers to pass individual bills just for them. The bills would need to pass with two-thirds approval. While several such bills have been passed over the past few years, none were passed in 2023.
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