State Can Keep Convicted Felons From Voting

A federal court has ruled that Massachusetts has the right to prevent incarcerated felons from voting.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed after Massachusetts voters in 2000 approved a measure to disqualify currently jailed felons from voting in certain elections. Lawmakers later extended that to all elections.

In 2001, several jailed felons challenged the law, arguing it violated the federal Voting Rights Act because the percentage of imprisoned felons who are black or Hispanic is higher than the percentage in the state as a whole.

On Friday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the inmates made no claim of intentional discrimination. The court also ruled Congress, in passing the Voting Rights Act, never intended to prohibit states from barring incarcerated felons from voting.

This program aired on August 1, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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