The Supreme Court earlier this week asked the U.S. Solicitor General's Office to provide its thoughts on whether laws that prohibit felons from voting subvert the Voting Rights Act, The National Law Journal reports. The Court's order came in the case of Simmons v. Galvin, which involves a federal appeals court decision invalidating a Massachusetts constitutional amendment barring prisoners from voting. The legal newspaper maintains that after "years of expressing little interest," in the matter, the Supreme Court is seeking to put the "administration on the spot," regarding such laws. SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston reports that once the high court receives the administration's response, "for which there is no timetable, the Justices will decide whether to accept the case for review."
In a recent Issue Brief published by ACS, authors Deborah J. Vagins and Erika Wood explore the laws that bar individuals with criminal records from voting.
They maintain, "Many of these criminal disenfranchisement laws are rooted in the Jim Crow era, and were created with the purpose of barring African Americans from voting. The impact of these laws continues today. Nationwide, 13% of African American men have lost the right to vote as a result of a criminal conviction - a rate seven times the national average."
Vagins, legislative counsel for the Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU, and Wood, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, urge enactment of the federal Democracy Restoration Act "to restore voting rights to millions of American citizens in federal elections and to finally redress a centuries-old injustice."
Their Issue Brief is available here.