In the wake of a lawsuit filed against the state to restore voting rights to ex-offenders, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office said voting restrictions on those on parole or probation is constitutional. Voice of the Offender (VOTE) filed a lawsuit against the state, the governor, and the secretary of state on July 1 requesting that individuals on probation and parole be granted the right to vote. “Although we are not a named defendant in the case, our office is reviewing the case,” Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman with the AG’s office told the Louisiana Record. “We do believe that restrictions on voting rights are constitutional.”
Pamela S. Karlan, co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School in California, spoke with the Louisiana Record about the history of felony disenfranchisement. “There are two conventional arguments (when it comes to denying felons the right to vote),” she said. “First, the argument is that people who broke the social contract don’t deserve to vote. It’s just part of the punishment. This dates back to long before the United States was a country. It has a long pedigree of reasoning. I don’t agree with it, but it was thought to be kind of a civil death.”
The second argument is more ominous. “A second less-legitimate argument is that race has played a history in voter disenfranchisement,” Karlan said. “For example, in Alabama in the early 1900s, the state came up with a list of misdemeanors that would deny people the right to vote. The list was created based on which crimes they thought black people committed more often. For a long time, race has a played a large role in voter disenfranchisement.”
Full Article: Louisiana AG reviewing lawsuit over voting rights for ex-offenders | Louisiana Record.