Good Ruling On Felon Disenfranchisement
On Tuesday this week, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled—correctly—that Florida’s law disenfranchising felons violated neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Voting Rights Act. The ruling was decisive: 11-1 on the constitutional question and 10-2 on Voting Rights Act question. The court said that, while the law may have a racially disproportionate effect (since the percentage of African Americans, for instance, who are felons is higher than their percentage in the general population), there is no evidence that this is the reason the law was passed. A similar challenge to a New York disenfranchisement statute is now pending before the Second Circuit. Kudos to the Bush administration’s Justice Department, which has filed briefs on the right side, defending the legality of the Florida and New York laws.