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11/15/2005

"Supreme Court lets stand ban on voting by felons"

Given that the constitution explicitly recognizes that felons can be denied the right to vote and that given there are also sorts of colateral penalties that felons suffer, the court cases that try to restore just this one particular right to felons have always puzzled me. I know that these criminals overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, but it has not seemed like the smartest political move for people like Senator Clinton to support murderers and rapists being able to vote.

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a challenge to Florida's ban on voting rights for felons, letting stand a 137-year-old law that applies to both inmates and ex-convicts.

The justices offered no comment in deciding not to review the ban, similar versions of which apply in every state, except Maine and Vermont. . . .

The high court's refusal to hear the Florida voting rights case, meanwhile, was met with dismay by lawyers representing ex-convicts seeking the right to vote -- specifically those who have served their time and been released from jail.

"This is a sad day for our democracy," said Catherine Weiss, associate counsel for New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, the lead counsel in the case. "The court has not only missed an opportunity to right a great historic injustice, it has shut the courthouse door in the face of hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised citizens." The Brennan Center said the Florida law bars more than 600,000 people from voting.

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