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January 17, 2012

Felon disenfranchisement gets brief spotlight in latest GOP debate

While I am still (impatiently) waiting for the GOP candidates to get some hard questions about the drug war, my eagerness for some criminal justice talk on the campaign trail was satiated a bit during last night's GOP candidate debate through a verbal tussle on the issue of voting rights for felons.  This CBS News story, headlined "Santorum hammers Romney over felon voting rights," provides this report:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Monday took GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney to task for opposing voting rights for felons who have served their time -- and for what Santorum cast as a flip-flop on the issue from his time as Massachusetts governor.

During the Fox News/Wall Street Journal-hosted Republican presidential debate ahead of the January 21 South Carolina primary, Santorum spun a question about the place of attack ads on the campaign trail into a back-and-forth with Romney over whether or not felons should be allowed voting rights after they have been released. The candidate, who is making a hard push to emerge as the race's consensus anti-Romney candidate, appeared to have prepared the line of attack in advance....

"Governor Romney's super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison," [Santorum] said. "I would ask Governor Romney, do you believe people who have -- who were felons, who served their time, who have extended, exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?"

Romney, in response, attempted to address the more general question about the role of super PACs in politics. But Santorum was not having it. "I'm looking for a question -- an answer to the question first," Santorum said, cutting Romney off....

The former Pennsylvania repeated his question, noting that "This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community."

"The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill," he continued. "And this was a provision that said, particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow -- to allow them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence. Do you agree with that?" he prompted.

"I don't think people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again. That's my own view," Romney answered.

Santorum was ready with a cross-examination-style response. "You know, it's very interesting you should say that, Governor Romney, because in the state of Massachusetts, when you were governor, the law was that not only could violent felons vote after they exhausted their sentences, but they could vote while they were on probation and parole, which was a more liberal position than I took when I voted for the bill in the Congress." 

Among the interesting aspects of this discussion is Romeny's reference to "people who have committed violent crimes."  Though I am not conversant with all state laws on felon voting rights, I am not aware of any state that makes a crisp distinctions concerning the violence involved in a prior felony when decide who can and cannot vote.  In other words, Romney seems to be expressing support for a felon disenfranchisement policy that does not actually exist anywhere.

January 17, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

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Felon-disenfranchisement laws are supported by the people. Why GOP candidates try to pander on this issue is beyond me.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 10:19:28 AM

Really? Which people? And what flavor of felon-disenfranchisement laws? My instinct would be that the above statement is probably correct as to "no voting from prison" or "no voting on parole" type laws. But beyond that, I would not be surprised at all if "the people" felt that once someone has "paid their debt to society" -- i.e., completed whatever combination of prison/probation/parole/fines to which they were sentenced -- he or she should be given back his or her civil rights, including voting.

Of course, I'm not aware of any polls/studies/empirical data, so I can't be sure. But federalist is not citing any either, so forgive me if I await some support for his very broad statement before giving it any credence. (This leaves aside, of course, the point that laws restricting fundamental rights generally cannot be justified *solely* on the basis of majority/voter support... especially when the fundamental right is voting itself. Not saying there can't be other justifications, just that popular will (at least of the enfranchised part of the populace) is not sufficient.)

Posted by: Anon | Jan 17, 2012 11:18:46 AM

I don't think you'll lose too many elections taking a position that those who commit serious crimes should lose the franchise permanently (subject to executive restoration).

The idea that a felon who simply walks out of jail has "paid his debt to society" is silly.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 11:31:39 AM

The fact this issue is not so important that you are going to lose on it (that is often not the case even on hot button issues like abortion or the death penalty) isn't saying much.

Also, the fact some "people" support a position is not saying much either. Santorum and others are out there trying to raise issues the majority ignores. The fact "the people" support some such thing, at times wrongly on some important issue, is not a reason for a candidate to hold another position.

The issue here is basic to consistency. Santorum upsets many for some of his views that reflect a certain moral belief system. Part of that system is the idea of redemption, including those who commit wrongs.

The idea someone who is a "felon," which can include any number of crimes that are fairly petty in nature (not just murderers or the like) should be denied the right to vote years after getting out of prison unless the executive gets around to pardoning them is a pretty important issue there.

As with Paul's comments on the drug war, it is an area where there can be real overlap between the two sides, everyone not is some box. This makes it particularly important, outside of the fact that needlessly depriving people the right to vote is a bad thing.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2012 11:56:49 AM

Also, this underlines the value of a primary system of some length -- we actually get to hear and understand how the presumptive favorite is flawed in various ways from the perspective of members of his or her own party. This underlines my annoyance at Huntsman, after strongly criticizing the guy like last week, suddenly endorsing him after losing a single primary.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2012 11:59:18 AM

Along with completion of the jail time, full payment of restitution should be required as a condition of reenfranchisement.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jan 17, 2012 11:59:46 AM

"full payment of restitution"

I'm not sure what this would entail (sounds like a civil matter; if you want a separate criminal fine, make it part of the punishment phase) but it would likely mean voting rights would be determined by economic ability.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2012 12:08:10 PM

I was REALLY excited to see felon enfranchisement take center stage last night with a REAL honest discussion about fairness, rehabilitation and forgiveness. You are partially wrong about Romney's position. Florida has laws that refranchise partially based on the severity of the crime and it's a messy difficult line to administer, so most states pick a place somewhere else on the spectrum.

Essentially, there are two states (Maine and Vermont) where all felons can vote even in prison. There are about 20 states where people can vote immediately upon release from prison, even if they are on probation or parole (considered the most reasonable compromise position and it seems one Santorum might be open to...). There are another 20 or so states where felons can vote once released from prison, probation or parole, in other words when their sentences are complete (this was Santorum's fall back question to Romney where he had a "really?" look on his face and forced Romney into a compromise position). Then there are a handful of states where there's a mish mosh of ways you can get your right to vote back like Florida where it's a total nightmare and most states avoid these weird laws like the plague.... Finally there are two states where you can never get your rights back, short of a pardon, (Kentucky and Virginia).

I have worked on this issue for 7 years in Wisconsin (as the former Associate Director of the ACLU of WI) and nearly got the laws loosened to enfranchise about 42,000 about a year ago with bi-partisan support. Santorum's position is not unusual for GOP electeds (for a minute I really LIKED him last night!). I came across many who believed in redemption and forgiveness and rehabilitation who were willing to vote to loosen the laws in Wisconsin (before this year's insane WI political climate). This was a breath of fresh air to me in a vacuum of GOP debates. I was truly impressed the issue came up and that we saw a real discussion of it. Thank you for posting the text and I plan on reposting this a LOT! ;)

Posted by: Renee Shavers | Jan 17, 2012 12:31:29 PM

Full payment of restitution would require that people pay their financial obligations prior to voting. That has been ruled a poll tax and illegal which is why it isn't required.

Posted by: Renee Shavers | Jan 17, 2012 12:33:10 PM

As for polls on popularity of felon's having the right to vote, they are consistently at 60% or more of the population that on gut reaction supports this rights regardless of political party, creed, religion or gender. On race, this affects the African American and Latino communities disproportionately, so of course the support for re-enfranchisement rises to the 85%+ range in those groups.

There are about 5 million people nationwide who are banned from voting. The laws spread quickly during Jim Crow and are still the most effective Jim Crow laws in the nation (although about 65% of those disfranchised nationwide are white and poor).

I'll check back later to see if there are any other questions people have about this issue that I can help you answer!

Posted by: Renee Shavers | Jan 17, 2012 12:41:03 PM

Renee, calling these laws "Jim Crow" is deeply disingenuous. There is a clear difference between laws which impact people simply because of their skin color and laws which provide consequences for voluntary criminal behavior. Why don't you start by getting that right?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 12:53:48 PM

Federalist, you certainly may be able to come up with numerous post hac rationales for these laws that are race neutral. But the timing and the *actual* intent behind many of these laws shows that they were absolutely Jim Crow laws enacted to disenfranchise African Americans.

See, e.g., Hunter v. Underwood, 471 U.S. 222 (1985) (8-0 decision) ("[T]horough analysis of the evidence . . . demonstrates conclusively that [the provision of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 that disenfranchised those convicted of crimes of moral turpitude] was enacted with the intent of disenfranchising blacks.").

And they were effective. Combined with the systematic denial of black jury participation, Jim Crow laws on "vagrancy" and other vague public order crimes made it easy for corrupt local authorities to railroad African American citizens through sham trials and establish a criminal record. This may have been done for other reasons as well,* but disenfranchisement was a major benefit. (*See, e.g., Pulitzer Prize winning book Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackmon, describing widespread use of such trumped-up charges to generate labor pool for exploitative convict-lease system in Alabama throughout later Jim Crow period).

If you start by getting that right, you may understand why many people continue to be suspicious of felon disenfranchisement and other laws that result in the dilution of minority voting power and/or disproportionate presence of criminal records for minorities (despite, for example, relatively similar cross-racial incidence of actual incidence of crime, such as drug possession, etc.).

Posted by: Anon | Jan 17, 2012 1:15:39 PM

Sadly, Alabama still has a very confusing disenfranchisement law. It is purposefully difficult to navigate and keeps many otherwise qualified people off of the voting roles. This is not a strange issue to change positions on because most "civilians" immediate reaction is NO! A review of the issue often causes people to change their minds. I wonder why Romney won't just say so and move on.

Posted by: Ala JD | Jan 17, 2012 1:27:05 PM

The simple fact, anon, is that laws disabling people with respect to an immutable characteristic are distinguishable from those that do not. And that you can cite Alabama, so what? Alabama isn't every state.

I have zero problems with bringing the full history to bear with respect to any discussion of felon-disenfranchisement laws, and I commend you for adding to the discussion here, but calling all felon-disenfranchisement laws "Jim Crow" is simply inflammatory and intellectually dishonest. I suspect you know it, but don't like them, and you don't mind a little intellectual dishonesty.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 1:59:26 PM

federalist --

What you're encountering is the new liberal fascism. If you oppose Item X that is favored by liberals (felon voting rights, abolition of the death penalty, re-electing Obama) it's not that you could actually have any race neutral reasons for your position, it's that you're a racist or are willingly carrying water for racists.

The whole idea is to bully adversaries and silence opposing views by branding them as preemptively unacceptable. Joe McCarthy would be proud.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 2:17:31 PM

Anon does seem to want to engage in a discussion of the issues--i wish he/she would choose a pseudonym. I think the sharpness of the post stems from the sharpness of mine. Glad to do battle, anon.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 2:25:01 PM

So the goal is to sustain social order. What is the objective of disenfranchisement?

Posted by: Tom McGee | Jan 17, 2012 3:16:00 PM

The power to vote is power, however small, over the rest of us. I don't particularly care to have murderers, rapists etc. to have power over me.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 3:21:58 PM

"And that you can cite Alabama, so what? Alabama isn't every state."

It was cited "e.g." -- as an example. Is the person supposed to spell out in a blog point a state by state analysis? Also, after complimenting the person for substantive discussion, you put forth an (unsubstantiated) dig about acceptance of a little intellectual dishonesty."

If you want substantive discussion, it's best not to provide guesses that the person is dishonest. In particular, a person who uses qualifiers like "many" that show (how usefully is unclear when they still are assumed to be dishonest) to show that ALL laws of this sort might not be racist in intent. This is what the Supreme Court itself noted, the cited case targeting a certain state, not all such laws across the board.

Use of qualifiers, substantive arguments and citation of source material is deemed admirable, but not enough not to take potshots concerning acceptance of dishonesty. Baby steps, I guess.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2012 3:25:54 PM

Joe --

"It was cited 'e.g.' -- as an example."

An example should exemplify -- in other words, it should be representative. The idea that Alabama law in 1901 is representative of anything going on now is preposterous.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 3:32:15 PM

Leave it to federalist to not only get the facts wrong, but to not acknowledge that he has done so. You might be taken a little more seriously, fed, if you learned to admit your factual errors. A simple "I was wrong in assuming that the majority favors felon disenfranchisement" would go a long way (if you're at all interested in credibility).

Posted by: reader | Jan 17, 2012 3:54:22 PM

reader --

Why would federalist -- indeed, why would anyone -- care about his "credibility" with one (or two or a dozen or five dozen) unknown, anonymous commenters on an all-comers Internet site? Without knowing a single thing about the identity, much less the credentials, of those purporting to judge "credibility," pursuit of their approval is pointless.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 4:24:47 PM

Everything I've read suggests that felon-disenfranchisement laws enjoy wide public support. And why don't you read what I've written--did I mention polls? No. My comment is more directed towards the politics of this issue anyway. Someone asked for clarification, and I provided it.

My previous response seems to have been swallowed up.

Bill aptly addresses the point about Alabama, so I won't repeat myself.

Joe doesn't deal with the obvious distinction between laws based on immutable characteristics and those based on actions. This leads to my conclusion that a little intellectual dishonesty is ok.

One thing strikes me as very curious--most people on the side of giving criminals the right to vote do think that a bar on criminals voting while incarcerated is fine. So how does felon-disenfranchisement become racist simply because it extends beyond the prison walls?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 17, 2012 4:32:11 PM

Renee:

Thank you!

Federalist at 4:32 PM:

When does punishment end for a person who has committed a felony for a victimless crime? I can give you hundreds of examples! Lying to Bill for instance to ambiguous questions! A misdemeanor sex-offender living 2498 feet from a school. Relieving yourself in the backseat of a squad car because you were not permitted to go to a restroom. Do you want more!!!

Since we are becoming a nation of unconstitutionalists, we should let everyone vote!

Posted by: albeed | Jan 17, 2012 5:04:15 PM

federalist --

"One thing strikes me as very curious--most people on the side of giving criminals the right to vote do think that a bar on criminals voting while incarcerated is fine. So how does felon-disenfranchisement become racist simply because it extends beyond the prison walls?"

A good point. Indeed, the argument for enfranchising felons while still incarcerated seems to me to have at least as much force as the argument for enfranchisement afterward. An inmate's life is controlled almost every minute by government authority, while a parolee has a great deal more freedom from government dictates. Thus the inmate has a GREATER stake in being able to vote than the parolee.

When one adds to this the fact that states vary widely both in sentencing and in the granting or withholding of parole, the distinction between present vs. past incarceration for enfranchisement purposes blurs into the purely irrational.

Q: So why do so many of the pro-enfranchisement people accept this distinction?

A: For the usual PR purposes. They know that the arguments that someone sitting in his cell for armed robbery should be able to vote is a total non-starter, so they just move on to something they think (probably correctly) will sell better. It has zip to do with principle.

P.S. On this entire thread, only a single actual case has been cited by anyone (Hunter v. Underwood, by Anon). Ever wonder why that is? It's that THERE ARE NO CASES holding the felon disenfranchisement, per se, is illegal. It's not like the arguments we're hearing haven't been raised in court. It's that when so raised, they've flopped.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 5:06:16 PM

I think the state has the authority to stop citizens from voting after committing a felony. But like many laws that states have the authority to pass, that doesn't make the law a wise one. I was convicted of felonies last year and, if I don't reverse the convictions on appeal, I will be disenfranchised. Yet I don't think my judgment on who can lead the country is worse than anyone who's commented on this string thus far. Again, I think the state has the authority to disenfranchise, but as a policy matter, I think it's unwise.

Kevin Ring

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Jan 17, 2012 6:15:19 PM

Renee Shavers writes, "Full payment of restitution would require that people pay their financial obligations prior to voting. That has been ruled a poll tax and illegal which is why it isn't required."

Really?

Johnson v. Bredesen, 624 F.3d 742, 744-745 (CA6 2010), cert. denied Johnson v. Haslam, 131 S.Ct. 2903 (2011):

Plaintiffs Terrence Johnson, Jim Harris, and Joshua Roberts —all Tennessee residents and convicted felons—filed a complaint alleging that, by conditioning restoration of their voting rights on payment of court-ordered victim restitution and child support obligations, Tennessee's voter re-enfranchisement statute violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and the Ex Post Facto and Privileges or Immunities Clauses of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. In a well-reasoned decision, the district court granted Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Plaintiffs appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jan 17, 2012 6:24:22 PM

Because I like sliding down slippery slopes....

Tea Party Nation President Says It ‘Makes A Lot Of Sense’ To Restrict Voting Only To Property Owners

By Zaid Jilani on Nov 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

Every week, the Tea Party Nation hosts a weekly radio program, calling itself a “home for conservatives.” Two weeks ago, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips hosted the program and discussed changes that he felt should be made to voting rights in the United States. He explained that the founders of the country originally put “certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote.” He continued, “One of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners”:

Posted by: George | Jan 17, 2012 6:46:24 PM

Kevin Ring --

My view of felon disenfranchisement is similar to my view of the death penalty. I would not adopt a blanket rule in either circumstance. Some people deserve to be executed notwithstanding generalized problems with the DP, and some felons deserve to vote nothwithstanding justified general concerns about the subject.

From what I know of you and your case -- admitedly only a limited amount -- I would have no problem with your voting. To be honest, I would trust you with the ballot more than half the people who comment here. People who show candor and honesty, and who don't hide behind the Internet curtain, have a leg up as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 9:46:31 PM

Kent --

Gads you are slow on the uptake. ACLU types get to hint at authority without actually providing any. This is a subset of the rule that liberals get to say anything because They Have Greater Moral Vision, whereas conservatives are racists (in addition to being classists (if there is such a word)).

That's the regimen in the comments section. I doubt it's gonna change.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 17, 2012 9:53:56 PM

no offense bill and fed! but if you could possibly think that in a DEMOCRACY that you need a LAW to be told that it's illegal to restrict voting SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME!

sorry in a One PERSON! One VOTE! country ANY restrictions outside of individuals who are not CITIZENS is simply CRIMINAL! and possibly TREASON!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 17, 2012 9:58:38 PM

Bill:

One of these days, I pray that you realize I am more conservative than you. I lived my life and made my wealth confronting the Feds. You are a FED.

I am an engineer and scientist (and a damn good one).

Posted by: albeed | Jan 17, 2012 10:39:24 PM

albeed --

I have no doubt you did well at your chosen profession. Unlike liberals, I do not resent other people's success, so more power to you.

I'm not in a race to see who's more conservative. Most of my positions would qualify: Borrow and spend less, since entitlement spending is bankrupting us; reverse Obama's gargantuan and disastrous cuts to the military; turn away from the present culture of grievance and entitlement and toward a culture of self-reliance; discourage rather than encourage drug use; and view criminals as what they are -- actors (acting mostly out of greed) rather than as victims.

Finally, I am not a fed. I WAS a fed, at first as a career AUSA and later as a political appointee. I am proud of my service, which is one reason I'm happy to use my real name and let anyone who cares to check my cases and my record. I stood behind what I said as an attorney for the United States, and I shall continue to stand behind what I say.

I have nothing against you and continue to wish you well.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 18, 2012 1:14:09 AM

rodsmith: "ANY restrictions outside of individuals who are not CITIZENS is simply CRIMINAL! and possibly TREASON!""

Do you support voter ID laws which preclude NON-CITIZENS from voting?

AG Holder has prevented South Carolina from enacting their voter ID law, and is expected to do the same with Texas and other states.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 18, 2012 9:34:35 AM

"Bill aptly addresses the point about Alabama, so I won't repeat myself."

The law in Alabama was "representative" of the origins of such laws and again the person you (w/o much backing) accuse of supporting dishonesty was careful with wording. The post was about their ORIGINS -- "many of these laws shows that they were absolutely Jim Crow laws enacted to disenfranchise African Americans" (note the tense) and then the post notes that it is not surprising that many are distrusting of such laws.

The laws continue to have a discriminatory effect either way which is far from surprising given their origins. Again, 'e.g.' and 'many' (not all) shows careful language. But, you still say s/he supports dishonesty. All that effort and STILL gratuitous potshots.

"Joe doesn't deal with the obvious distinction between laws based on immutable characteristics and those based on actions. This leads to my conclusion that a little intellectual dishonesty is ok."

I addressed a specific problem I had with your post. The person you said appeared to support dishonesty, again based on nothing much substantive, noted the history of such legislation, which was racist in sentiment. The actions were selectively targeted as were literary tests and so forth. I'm sorry if this "obvious" bit of history alludes you, but since careful analysis, with qualifiers and citations STILL leads to accusations of dishonesty, I don't know what would not. Just agreeing with you? Nah.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 18, 2012 10:31:21 AM

"their voter ID law"

The voter id laws targeted do not oppose any type of "id" which various states have during registration and voting, but specific kinds that are shown to be problematic, particularly (as in SC) in states that by law careful scrutiny is shown as a result of history.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 18, 2012 10:34:23 AM

Good grief, Joe. You're importing Alabama's history into states like Washington etc. That's intellectually dishonest. Any power can be used with a racist purpose, but that doesn't make the power itself illegitimate. But let's remember what triggered my comment--it was the intellectual dishonesty of not acknowledging the obvious distinction (not your post, but another's), and you jumped on me. Well, since you didn't criticize the intellectual dishonesty, you can't now say, well, gee i was only talking about the origins. Sorry, that pivot ain't gonna work. You didn't deal with the difference between actions and immutable characteristics and the intellectual dishonesty that inheres in ignoring the distinction. That was my point. So, to be blunt, I don't really care about your qualifications, citations etc. You're trying to pivot. And in that, I see more intellectual dishonesty. So stop with the protestations here.

The post at issue ignored the distinction. Your post attacked mine on the point and said that many were in fact, Jim Crow, and you cite Alabama in 1901. (This, of course, ignores the fact that by 2012, the issue is the motivation in keeping the law on the books, not the original intent of it.) So now you're going to say, "Oh fed, I was careful." blah blah blah. Whatever, man.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 18, 2012 10:45:38 AM

Fed,

Sorry, I get the concerns with anonymity (to some extent), but for reasons particular to my situation, I feel like it is necessary.

Thanks for acknowledging that I was trying to engage in a legit discussion and defending me against Bill's attempt to turn me into a straw man. I don't see anything in my post that accused you of being a racist or carrying their water. I was just reacting to your reaction to Renee's suggestion that felon disenfranchisement laws were/are racist. Wasn't suggesting you are a racist for failing to agree with her, just that you were overlooking the broader context and origin of these laws. Many if not most of them, at least in the South (where the most onerous prohibitions are concentrated), are indeed legacies of Jim Crow.
I don't have the inclination to catalog all of the laws so used Alabama as an example because I happened to know that was the easiest to document. Various reports and articles on the issue have cataloged further examples.

And beyond these historical origins, there are, of course, arguments that contemporary expansions/amendments to these laws are also racially motivated. It is generally supposed in most states that the black vote leans democratic, so it is easy to be suspect of republican-initiated felon disenfranchisement rules (or, as noted by Ala JD, felon re-enfranchisement procedures that seem almost intentionally convoluted and difficult to navigate) that will disproportionally affect minorities. (This area of legislation is similar to redistricting in that the norm seems to be the privileging of raw, immediate political interest above the interests of the public at large.) I didn't get into this because I thought that the indisputable historical facts were sufficient to justify the use of the modifier "Jim Crow."

I certainly don't think I was supporting "intellectual dishonesty" because, for the reasons I listed, I think "Jim Crow" is a reasonable description of these legacy laws. I get that you can disagree and perhaps think that the passage of time and the reaffirmation of these laws by future generation purges the taint of Jim Crow. I disagree to some extent and think that the persistence of these laws is based on a combination of inertia, the one-way ratchet theory of crime-related legislation (i.e., that the political calculations in voting on crime-related bills usually point in one direction), and possibly continued racial politics. But in any case I don't think that this disagreement is so one-sided that either side's characterization can be billed as "intellectually dishonest."

(Thank you, Joe, for making some of these points already!)

Gotta go, I'm late for a meeting of the ACLU/NAMBLA Brownshirts.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 18, 2012 11:08:05 AM

"Good grief, Joe. You're importing Alabama's history into states like Washington etc. That's intellectually dishonest."

Since YET AGAIN I have repeatedly not spoke in absolutist terms -- part of the whole point is the original person did not either -- I do not know how I specifically "imported" things to WA or some other specific state.

"Any power can be used with a racist purpose, but that doesn't make the power itself illegitimate."

We are not talking about any power under the sun but specific situations.

"But let's remember what triggered my comment--it was the intellectual dishonesty of not acknowledging the obvious distinction (not your post, but another's), and you jumped on me."

There was no "dishonesty" shown -- the person noted the racist history of "many" laws and then noted how this led to current distrust. The person was careful and you even praised the person but then had to make a cheap shot about dishonesty. Dishonesty is a serious allegation especially against someone who went the extra mile to be careful. Sorry if this is so complicated.

"Well, since you didn't criticize the intellectual dishonesty"

since there wasn't any

"You didn't deal with the difference between actions and immutable characteristics and the intellectual dishonesty that inheres in ignoring the distinction. That was my point. So, to be blunt, I don't really care about your qualifications, citations etc. You're trying to pivot. And in that, I see more intellectual dishonesty. So stop with the protestations here."

It is duly noted that careful analysis doesn't matter to you here but what it shows is that the laws were often originally racist in origin. The difference is duly noted. The origin point still holds: the laws were in many cases (including in the states requiring preclearance) racist in origin. That is what the cites etc. show -- IN THIS CASE, there is a overlap since actions are selectively targeted for racist reasons.

"The post at issue ignored the distinction. Your post attacked mine on the point and said that many were in fact, Jim Crow, and you cite Alabama in 1901."

The post cited history of racist laws in "many" cases. It didn't say all laws of this type were racist & as I noted, the case cited itself said just the opposite, since previously felony laws of this type were not across the board rejected. So, don't see how it "ignored" the matter. You -- w/o calling the person dishonest -- could have asked for clarification on the point, since the post did not provide some comprehensive discussion of the topic.

"This, of course, ignores the fact that by 2012, the issue is the motivation in keeping the law on the books, not the original intent of it.) So now you're going to say, "Oh fed, I was careful." blah blah blah. Whatever, man."

The person explained the origins of many of the laws & part of the reason why many people continue to distrust them. Seems to be relevant parts of the discussion but if history and reasons for distrust is not important to you nor being careful, whatever man.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 18, 2012 11:16:01 AM

hmm

"rodsmith: "ANY restrictions outside of individuals who are not CITIZENS is simply CRIMINAL! and possibly TREASON!""

Do you support voter ID laws which preclude NON-CITIZENS from voting?"

As long as the id is issued for free since it is now a REQUIRMENT by the state GO FOR IT!

plus i've said for years now that we have the ability it's long past time to take EVERYONE'S DNA and store the info for crime prevention purposes. Would just need to also include in the law a requirment that the govt can use it for NO OTHER use and that it cannot be used by private parties for ANY REASON.

with the eventual use once the tech improves for it to be used in conjunction as part of a almost tamper proof ID


Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 18, 2012 1:32:12 PM

federalist --

What's going on with Joe and Anon is not that difficult to discern. They're branding you (and others concerned with vote fraud) racists, but with enough slickly worded half-way disclaimers to be able to wax indignant when you call them on it.

This is getting to be SOP with the Left. Since blacks are overwhelmingly a Democrat constituency, and disproportionately benefit from, for example, big government welfare spending, if you oppose big government welfare spending, you're a racist. It can't have anything to do with legitimate concern that domestic spending is out of control and bankrupting the country. It's that to oppose their agenda is to be Bull Connor.

Same deal with the death penalty.

Same deal with Obama's re-election bid. If you oppose Obama, you're a racist.

The idea is to pre-emptively censor, as morally reprobate, any opposition to the Left item du jour (in this thread, defeating voter ID laws).

Good for you for refusing to be intimidated by the new McCarthyism.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 18, 2012 3:22:48 PM

lol good one bill

but in this one case

"Same deal with Obama's re-election bid. If you oppose Obama, you're a racist."

all it really proves is YOU HAVE A BRAIN!

the only real problem i see in resisting obama's relection is that ANY of that current crop of idiots running againt him could probably do even MORE DAMAGE during the next 4 year tearm! where in obama's case he will be a lame duck president.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jan 18, 2012 8:00:26 PM

Bill:

Your comment at 3:22PM is one of your least intelligent comments on this blog.

Please reconsider, Accusing everyone who objects with you of being a leftist, that is pretty dumb.

I am more conservative than you.

Posted by: albeed | Jan 18, 2012 10:29:33 PM

Speaking of race and racism, what is it, or what was it during the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment?

American Eugenics p 4

Most importantly, class divisions were, and continue to be, validated by eugenic explanations. The poor have borne the brunt of eugenic enactments.

The "National Hygiene" section follows the trail of the legislation, beginning with eugenicists' efforts to solidify the fusion of race and nationality in the years before the passage of the 1917 Immigration Act and ending with recent anti-immigrant harangues. It is a history complicated by the pliant usage of "race" during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to refer, at any given time, to religion, color, class, and/or national origins.

Posted by: Just to piss off Bill | Jan 19, 2012 2:59:03 AM

I would "disclaim" that I was calling F. a racist, but that would just prove how "slick" I am, I guess.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 19, 2012 5:52:45 PM

Just to piss off Bill --

One of the preconditions to my being pissed off about a comment is that it has to be sufficiently coherent to be understood. Sorry about that.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 19, 2012 7:51:34 PM

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