« New report on the role of medical boards regulating doctor involvement in executions | Main | Facebook enhancement for drunk driver provides notable example of social-media sentencing »

January 28, 2010

Second Circuit addresses constitutional claims in challenge to NY felon disenfranchisement

The Second Circuit has already addressed and rejected, en banc, a challenge to New York's felon disenfranchisement law based on federal statutory law.  Today, through this new panel opinion in the case now called Hayden v. Paterson, the Circuit addresses (and mostly rejects) constitutional challenges to this New York state law.  Here is a summary of the ruling from the opinion itself:

Plaintiffs-Appellants appeal from the portions of a final order and judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Lawrence M. McKenna, Judge) entered on June 14 and 16, 2004, respectively, that dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for relief under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Because plaintiffs do not state a plausible claim of intentional discrimination and they do not state a plausible claim that New York Election Law § 5-106(2) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, we affirm the District Court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings to defendants.  We do, however, remand to the District Court to allow plaintiffs to seek leave to amend their deficient complaint as to their intentional discrimination claim. AFFIRMED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Because I am not really an expert in this area, I cannot quickly assess whether this new Hayden ruling is especially noteworthy.  But, in light of the holding, this ruling is clearly not as significant as the Ninth Circuit panel ruling earlier this month that Washington state's disenfranchisement of felons violates the federal Voting Rights Act (discussed here).

January 28, 2010 at 02:41 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Second Circuit addresses constitutional claims in challenge to NY felon disenfranchisement:


personally i think this group and the other are TRAITORS to their oath of office.

Sorry last time i looked this was a representative democracy...at least officially. Which means ONE PERSON! ONE VOTE! Sorry once they are no longer under control of DOC and have completed their COURT ORDERED SENTENCE!

They have just as much a LEGAL RIGHT to vote as any other american...

since last time i looked that was one of the reaons we ran the English govt into the ocean.

Taxastion without representation. Sorry they can call it what they want if they CAN'T vote for the person they feel with represent them. They have been ILLEGALLY stripped of their RIGHT to vote. Plus last time i looked a state has no legal control over a RIGHT! you either HAVE IT OR YOUR DON'T!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 29, 2010 2:30:11 AM

of course if a govt can take it and change it! or strip it from you! or control it...IT'S NOT A RIGHT! it's a PRIVILAGE!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 29, 2010 2:30:55 AM


Posted by: Res ipsa | Jan 29, 2010 11:54:39 AM

Mr. rod smith, You say "last time I checked..." Well, check again! The state does have the legal ability to decide who votes.

There is no "RIGHT" to vote. The state can determine who, under its own laws, can and cannot vote. The decision is only limited by Constitutional restrictions, e.g. Amendments 15, 19, 24, 26, and maybe federal statute. I guess you could also say that the Constitution's guarantee of every state having "a Republican form of government" also acts as a limit, insofar as the state cannot curtail voting ability to such a degree so as to violate that provision. But otherwise, a state decides who gets the "right to vote."

Your arguments about "taxation without representation" and the purpose of the Revolutionary War are good ones, but not based in the Constitution...they are sound policy reasons for broadly expanding suffrage. Yet, nowhere in the federal Constitution will you find the principle no "taxation without representation" or "one person must get one vote." It's simply not there.

I agree with you as a matter of policy that suffrage should be as broad as possible, including felons. But there is no constitutional reason the state can't do this.

Posted by: rod's wrong | Jan 29, 2010 11:56:11 AM

MAYBE that's becuase they figured NOBODY would be dumb enough to do it. Since under their rules if you were a CITIZEN you voted!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 29, 2010 1:12:18 PM

as for those constutional amendment would those be some of those passed with what 5-6 senators in the building to actually vote!

like the crap they pulled with the newest bit of stupidty the AWA law.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 29, 2010 1:13:39 PM

rod at 1:12:18:
Check again rod... At the time of our founding, not all citizens voted. In fact, it was common for only property owners to vote. And certainly a woman couldn't vote, even though she was considered "a CITIZEN." (emphasis yours).

The reason why there is no "right to vote" in the Constitution is precisely because the founders wanted to leave it to the states to decide who they wanted voting.

rod at 1:13:39:
It's odd that you appear to be criticizing those constitutional amendments. If you knew anything, you would know that those were amendments that expanded voting rights and made it so that the states could not deny voting rights based on a certain status (race, gender, poll tax, under 18 yrs. old). You should embrace those amendments, given your first comment.

And, just FYI, your comment about an amendment being passed with only "5-6 senators in the building" is grossly misinformed. It takes 2/3 of the House and Senate, and then approval by 3/4 of the states.

Posted by: rod's wrong again | Jan 29, 2010 1:47:43 PM

you and your time stamps are so funny i forgot to laugh!

as for this!

"rod at 1:12:18:
Check again rod... At the time of our founding, not all citizens voted. In fact, it was common for only property owners to vote. And certainly a woman couldn't vote, even though she was considered "a CITIZEN." (emphasis yours)."

YOUR the one who might need to look again...AT that time they LEGALLY werent' citizens.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Jan 30, 2010 1:14:59 AM

I'm sorry rod, you don't know your history. The history of voting rights (as such rights have been established by the states) shows that citizenship has always been a necessary but not sufficient condition for voting. For some reason you can't seem to understand that. It has always been the states to decide who can and cannot vote.

When this country was founded, only white men with property were routinely permitted to vote (although freed African Americans could vote in four states). White working men, almost all women, and all other people of color were denied the franchise.

This does not mean that white men who owned property were not considered citizens; it means they were citizens who the states decided could not vote. DO YOU NOT DENY THAT NON-PROPERTY OWNING MEN were considered "citizens" who could not vote?

I would like to see your authority for claiming that women were not considered legal citizens at the time of our founding. Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1890. Does this mean, under your argument, that women were only considered "citizens" in Wyoming (and nowhere else) and only starting in 1980? Your argument is perverse.

By the time of the Civil War, most white men were allowed to vote, whether or not they owned property. However, literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests were used in various places as requirements for voting. Again, this does not mean that those who could not read, did not pay the poll tax, or were not the requisite religion were not "citizens"; it means those citizens were unable to vote.

Learn your history, rod. States have always had the power to define the scope of voting rights. And it was set up that way not because the founders somehow thought the states wouldn't be "dumb enough" to not extend the franchise, but precisely because they wanted the states to have this ability.

P.S. Even under your odd theory, do you not deny that a state could deny a person from voting merely by defining what constituted a "citizen"?

P.S.S. The time stamps weren't meant to be funny.

Posted by: rod's wrong again and again | Jan 30, 2010 12:46:13 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB