Home Uncategorized Senator Rand Paul Will Introduce a Bill to Permit Some Ex-Felons in All States to Vote in Federal Elections
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Senator Rand Paul Will Introduce a Bill to Permit Some Ex-Felons in All States to Vote in Federal Elections

According to this Politico article, Senator Rand Paul is about to introduce a bill to permit ex-felons who had been convicted of non-violent crimes to register to vote in all states. However, the bill will only apply to federal elections, because the U.S. Constitution says states can set voting qualifications for state and local elections.

There have been similar bills in many sessions of Congress in the past, but they never pass. This bill might have a better chance than any previous bill, because it has the potential to gain support from Republican members of Congress as well as Democratic members. Thanks to AroundtheCapitol for the link.

14 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    The U.S.Constitution provides no role for Congress in the setting of voter qualifications, other than enforcing the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th amendments.

    The U.S.Constitution requires that the qualification for voting in congressional elections be the same as that for the largest legislative body.

    The Congress has no role whatsoever in regulating the electorate for any presidential elections that a state might choose to conduct.

    ‘Oregon v Mitchell’ (18 yo vote part) was wrongly decided, as was ‘Tashjian’.

    Paul should propose amending the 14th Amendment to permit certain felons the right to vote, as well as eliminating jus solis citizenship.

  2. In 1985 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously invalidated Alabama’s Constitutional provision that persons convicted of crimes of moral turpitude could not register to vote. The basis was the 14th amendment. Do you think that was also wrongly decided?

    I argue that Richardson v Ramirez was wrongly decided, and that the 14th amendment bars the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, just as it bars states from imposing poll taxes.

    • Jim Riley

      Were the Alabamians who had written bad checks only prevented from voting in federal elections?
      Answer: No.

      Oregon v Mitchell was not decided on the basis of the 14th Amendment. It was decided by Hugo Black’s opinion that Congress could set voting qualifications for federal elections, but not state elections. The other 8 justices disagreed. Hugo Black died a year after the decision.

      Read Justice Stevens dissent in ‘Tashjian’. Then read Part IV of the Thurgood Marshall’s opinion. It is pure nonsensical gobbledygook. Marshall wanted to rule on the juicier aspects of the case, so papered over the part that would have prevented the court from considering the case.

      The 14th Amendment has a specific exception regarding disenfranchisement of criminals.

      If Charles Manson is paroled will he become an ex-murderer?

      • Bill

        Which exception are you referring to?

        Thank you.

        Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

        Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

        Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

        Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

        • Jim Riley

          “except for participation in rebellion, or other crime,”

          • Bill

            Are you prepared to have your own state’s congressional delegation reduced if your state’s prison population, including those convicted of ANY crime, and incarcerated in any state or municipal prison, should reach a proportional threshold?

            When was the last such calculations done for wach of our fifty states?

          • Jim Riley

            Bill,

            When Congress was preparing for the 1870 Census, the first after passage of the 14th Amendment, they had included questions about whether the respondent had been abridged, as well as questions about citizenship, age, and sex. But the question about disenfranchisement was removed.

            The cabinet official in charge had then asked that state officials calculate the number of disenfranchised persons. Some states responded, some did not, and the information was not particularly reliable.

            Nonetheless, some members of Congress made adjustments, and discovered that it would make no difference, so it was pretty much forgotten. The Census no longer even asks about citizenship out of fear that non-citizens present illegally won’t participate.

            In the end, the 1870 apportionment was not based on population in any justifiable mathematical sense.

            At the time, the US had 37 states.

            There are male citizens over the age of 21 in most (all?) states who are denied the right to vote, even though they have not participated in rebellion or committed a crime. There should be an adjustment for the population.

          • Bill

            Jim –

            Do you believe that all forms of “rebellion” are criminal?

            The 14th amendment seems to imply that they are.

          • Jim Riley

            Bill,

            It is ambiguous from the text. Given the context of when the 14th Amendment was written, the authors meant “rebellion” to refer to one specific rebellion, and that participants were criminal.

            Broadly viewed, crimes are prosecuted because they constitute a disruption of public order. Rebellion would certainly be considered a disruption of public order.

  3. Demo Rep

    The SCOTUS MORONS also have screwed up the citizenship stuff in 14th Amdt, Sec. 1 —

    IF the father is a USA citizen (i.e. having ALLEGIANCE to the USA Const.), then his kids are USA citizens.

    Current LUNACY — a highly pregnant women due to a FOREIGN regime father can cross into the USA one inch or less, have the kid be born and claim the kid is a USA citizen. Total NONSENSE.

    The 4 July 1776 DOI involved a change of ALLEGIANCE from the Brit monarchy to the 13 new States.

    See the various test oaths and purges of folks who remained loyal to King George III in 1776-1783 in such 13 new States — i.e. 13 NATION-States.

    Thus the combined names – the *United* STATES of America.

  4. Demo Rep

    Section 2 (repeat 2) got most of the attention in the 39th Congress in 1866 in the 14th Amdt language.

    ANY folks with brains knew that the slavery oligarchs in the ex-slave States (and many free States) had restricted the right to vote by all sorts of means — property ownership, literacy tests, race, color, etc. etc

    — i.e. The slave States had used the white lower classes as cannon fodder in the horrific Civil War.

    Result – UNIVERSAL adult male citizen suffrage — right to vote — in section 2 — except for convicted criminals (a MAJOR loophole in the ex-slave States — put litter on a sidewalk — perhaps lose the right to vote).

    Totally ignored by armies of moron lawyers since 1868 and the worse morons in SCOTUS — esp. since the 1960s.

  5. Bill

    If “rebellion” is ambiguous, then it seems to me “other crime” is equally ambiguous. It certainly doesn’t preclude misdemeanors. Are we to allow the disenfranshisement of voters if they commit petty thefts? Traffic violations? And the amendment doesn’t even specify that a conviction is required. Through the years states have defined homosexuality and certain sex acts as criminal. Are we to allow states to deny the vote to anyone who has engaged in oral sex, for instance? Furthermore, given this country’s obscene rate of incarceration for various “crimes” over the years, and since the amendment does not specify that completion of service of prison time for felonies, or payment of fine or submission to other punishment for other “crimes” clears the slate for purposes of being allowed to vote, we have tens of millions of Americans who could (should, apparently by your lights…see Manson comment above) be denied the vote.

    Also, if we can deny a basic civil right like voting, can “criminals” make the case that, quid pro quo, they should also be relieved of certain civic responsibilities? Like paying taxes, for instance?

    Finally, what is so objectionable to allowing “criminals” to vote? After all, we allow tens of millions of stupid, uninformed people to vote in each election cycle.

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