The legal battle over the voting rights of more 70,000 Louisiana residents on probation or parole will continue as civil rights groups announced Tuesday (June 13) their intention to appeal a state court’s ruling denying ex-offenders that right. The Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington, D.C., filed notice with the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal of their intention to challenge a March 13 decision by 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley in Baton Rouge. Kelley rejected a 2016 lawsuit seeking to restore voting rights of people on probation or parole for felony crimes, saying that, while he believed it to be unfair, it is legal under the state constitution to deny convicted felons that right, according to the Associated Press.
“I don’t like this ruling. I don’t like it. It’s not fair,” Kelley said at the time, according to the AP report. “But I’m charged with following the law.”
The original lawsuit was filed on behalf of Voice of the Experienced, or VOTE, a New Orleans-based nonprofit representing formerly incarcerated people, and eight people convicted of felonies and denied the right to vote. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State Tom Schedler were named as defendants.