Deprivation of Voting Rights as a Collateral Consequence of a Felony Conviction

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is right to be concerned about the excessive number of collateral consequences attending a felony conviction, but its implicit suggestion that the deprivation of voting rights is the one most urgently in need of reform is … well … quirky at best.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on the collateral consequences of a felony conviction several weeks ago. Its members are against 'em. And to some degree, so should we all be. There are too many collateral consequences to a felony conviction these days. Examples include laws that prevent ex-offenders from engaging in certain professions and rules that make it difficult or impossible for ex-offenders to live in public housing.

On the other hand, the Commission appears curiously naïve about the reasons behind some of these collateral consequences. They seem to think they are just gratuitous efforts to kick people who are already down. But high rates of recidivism are a fact. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, "Five in 6 (83%) of state prisoners released in 2005 across 30 states were arrested at least once during the 9 years following their release." The average number of re-arrests is five. Some collateral consequences are genuinely useful in protecting the public.

For example, few would argue against laws that forbid those who have been convicted of the sexual abuse of a young child from working in a day care center. And maybe it's not such a bad idea to invest in more halfway houses for recently released prisoners instead of immediately putting them in unsupervised public housing, where some ex-offenders will likely put innocent residents in greater danger.

Even so, there have to be limits. Some collateral consequences seem to be nothing more than the work of a special interest seeking to squelch competition. In West Virginia, for example, "waxing specialists" and "shampoo assistants" must demonstrate "good moral character" to a government board. Maybe it's just me, but I like rather like shampoo assistants "with a past."

My Commissioner Statement (along with Commissioner Peter Kirsanow) urges a bit more effort to assess collateral consequences on a case-by-case basis.

What struck me most about the Commission's report was its emphasis on laws that deny felons the vote. The report purports to be about how collateral consequences make it too difficult for ex-offenders to re-integrate and hence increase the likelihood of recidivism. And yet it devotes more pages to the deprivation of voting rights than to any other kind of consequence. And it uses by far the report's most florid language to describe it, arguing that "denying this right to even a 'subset of the population' jeopardizes democracy for the entire population," and that "the right to vote is the 'essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government." [Italics added.]

Curiously, this is the one collateral consequence that is unlikely to prevent re-integration. If one doesn't have a job or a place to live, it is easy to see how one might be lured back into crime. Not being able to vote isn't in that category at all.

Alas, it is a little hard to imagine that the Commission's Progressive majority would have been as focused on voting if they had not been quite so convinced that ex-offenders tend to vote for left-of-center candidates. (Ditto for the lack of enthusiasm shown by Republican state legislators.)

If useful reform is going to happen, it makes sense to focus elsewhere.

NEXT: Authoritarian Rulers Mobilize Private Violence To Advance Their Goals

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  1. Since (as I’ve only just discovered) the 13th amendment allows slavery as a punishment for crimes (something that several/most states take advantage of, depending on how you look at it), I think America is still a long way away from being able to have a mature conversation about how it could possibly be legitimate to deny the vote to felons before or after their release from prison. Y’all are still firmly in the “felons should be treated as lifelong lepers” stage.

    1. You only just learned that sentencing Joe Citizen to a couple of weekends picking up litter on the side of the highway is constitutional?

      1. No, I only just learned that making prison inmates work for free in the garden of the Governor’s mansion in their orange jumpsuits while armed guards keep an eye on them is constitutional.

        Picking up litter is clearly constitutional as long as it’s a person’s choice, as an alternative to jail.

      2. You only just learned that sentencing Joe Citizen to a couple of weekends picking up litter on the side of the highway is constitutional?

        “No, I only just learned that making prison inmates work for free in the garden of the Governor’s mansion in their orange jumpsuits while armed guards keep an eye on them is constitutional.”

        Not seeing much difference, here.

        “Picking up litter is clearly constitutional as long as it’s a person’s choice, as an alternative to jail.”

        Assuming they’re given a choice.

        1. On the one hand, it seems like personal service to the governor. On the other, it isn’t the governor’s mansion — it’s The Peoples’ Mansion!

          Politicians made that bed.

          1. For most of my life, the state I lived in didn’t even have a governor’s mansion. But if the state does have one, maintaining the grounds of it (public land), and maintaining the sides of the highways (public land) seems largely a matter of need, interest, and ease of administration. (You keep seeking news stories about a convict who walked away from a road crew, but I don’t recall hearing about one who walked away from the governor’s mansion (affected, of course, by the fact that there wasn’t a local governor’s mansion to walk away from.))

    2. It doesn’t allow for slavery. It allows for involuntary servitude, as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

      The Amendments don’t use commas the way one might hope and try to hard for compact language, in the hope that intelligent people could understand compact language. The ambiguities lead to all sorts of unwanted consequences, such as a large number of totalitarians seton forth the notion that the Second Amendment is a collective right of the National Guard.

      That all said, there is a world of difference between being a slave (the property of another person) and serving out your sentence hoeing the governor’s garden. In one instance, you are subject to arbitrary actions (being sold, having your offspring sold, being beaten and maybe killed) and on the other, working to offset the cost of your incarceration for a crime you were convicted of, and are only obligated to serve for the duration of your sentence, don’t like involuntary servitude? Don’t commit the crime.

      1. It takes a lot more than misplacing a comma to think the right of the people is a right of the national guard. It literally says “right of the people”,

        And I don’t think there’s a place you could have located that comma in the 13th amendment to get the meaning you want here. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” treats the two of them interchangeably.

        The distinction between slavery and involuntary servitude, as I understand it, is one of duration, not whether or not you’re viewed as property.

      2. “don’t like involuntary servitude? Don’t commit the crime.”

        That’s the spirit! Or, as they’d say in Iran, “Don’t like having your hand chopped off? Don’t steal!”

    3. You seem to have a problem with understanding the difference between one receiving due process and one not receiving due process.

  2. Democrats want felons to be able to vote because they’re disproportionately black and Hispanic, and thus, disproportionate Democrat Party voters. It’s that simple. There’s no principle behind it beyond power.

    1. So, taking away people’s right to vote is OK if they wouldn’t have voted your way, anyway?

      Sorry, dude, you just lost your right to vote.

      1. No, taking away people’s right to vote because they either don’t pay taxes, have a genetically low IQ, have produced an illegitimate child, don’t own land, or have shown they can’t follow society’s rules is perfectly legitimate.

        1. “No, taking away people’s right to vote because they . . . don’t pay taxes . . . is perfectly legitimate”

          This would explain why Donald Trump strives to conceal his tax returns and why clingers support that effort.

          1. There’s also the inconvenient 24th amendment.

            1. Which refers to poll taxes, and poll taxes, only.

              1. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”
                Bold added by me.

                1. (((However, I didn’t realize the amendment applied only to voting for certain offices. So I learned something.)))

                  1. IIUC the certain offices are the only elected positions in the federal government therefore the only offices that the Constitution would address.

                    I expect, although it is arguable from either side, that the 14A would also apply to the State elected positions. The argument concerning whether one need be a citizen in order to vote in State elections especially considering that the federal government determines who is and who is not a US citizen while States determine who is and who is not a resident of said State.

                    1. Do you mean that the 24th might be able to be incorporated against the states? If so, I hadn’t thought about that. (Apologies if that’s not what you had in mind.)

                2. I read that to mean a tax specifically for the purpose of voting. Not conditioning voting rights on being a federal income taxpayer.

                  1. Guess it’s good for people like you that we don’t require literacy to vote any more.

    2. “Democrats want felons to be able to vote because they’re disproportionately black and Hispanic, and thus, disproportionate Democrat Party voters. It’s that simple. There’s no principle behind it beyond power.”

      Perhaps R’s could work to enact policies that would make those durn lesser peoples want to vote for them, instead of trying to keep them from voting.
      Just a suggestion.

      1. Perhaps. And perhaps they could enact policies to make latinos vote for them, too.

        While we’re waiting, is wanting to change historical norms because you realize criminals will vote for you an honorable position? I think they should vote because I don’t like the idea of incarceration without having an even tiny chance of affecting the laws putting you behind bars. But that’s not why there is a sudden push now.

        1. “While we’re waiting, is wanting to change historical norms because you realize criminals will vote for you an honorable position?”

          Ask the politicians voted out for not being friendly to the legalize marijuana lobby.

          “Historical norms” are fine, so long as the factors that made them norms are still at work. But if things have changed, then “but that’s the way we’ve ALWAYS done it!” don’t cut it. In 1919, the notion that women should vote in all elections was wacky and only a few states had embraced it. In 2019, though…

        2. Changing historical norms, wisely or not, for political advantage is hardly unprecedented.

    3. Democrats want felons to be able to vote because they are – generally – lower intelligence, poor, make bad decisions, and have no respect for authority.

      These qualifies have nothing to do with race and everything to do with a establishing a permanent underclass that ensures the ruling class maintains power.

  3. So unable to find a job or someplace to live the dejected felon returns to crime because he lacks a voter id card?

    1. If he can vote, he can help elect people who’ll remove the restrictions on jobs and housing. If he can’t vote, will the state legislator take him seriously?

      1. They will in California.

  4. “There are too many collateral consequences to a felony conviction these days. ”

    I think the problem is, rather, that there are too many felonies. Most of the consequences of a felony conviction are perfectly appropriate for heinous crimes which demonstrate that somebody is at the least incapable of controlling even the most vicious of impulses, and possibly outright evil.

    But too many things have been made into felonies, in part because the left wants a large population of people who will gladly vote to abolish liberties they’re not allowed to exercise anyway.

    The rule should be, if you’re thought fit to be in polite society, you should have ALL your civil liberties restored. All, or none. None of this creation of half free citizens.

    1. Same thoughts here: you are either too evil to live with the public at large, or you are free to live on your own. Halfway houses, and parole / probation, are somewhat logical extensions of lockup. But once all that is over, further restrictions are just gratuitous insults.

      The only thing “special” about voting is that it is for citizens only and so could be considered a sign of becoming an upstanding citizen again, much as first election after turning 18 can be considered a rite of passage into adulthood. But I doubt very many ex-felons think it as important as being denied all sorts of decent jobs.

      1. There is one other thing “special” about voting: There is a clause in the 14th Amendment that specifically authorizes excluding criminals from voting:

        “But when the right to vote … is denied to any … citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime…”

        So if I was looking for restrictions placed on ex-cons that maybe should be relaxed or removed, I’d put the many restrictions that are not clearly for the public safety, and are neither authorized nor banned in the Constitution, ahead of voting restrictions.

    2. That also applies to the “age of majority.” Either make it 18 or 21. I can see an argument for both. But none of this 18 for some things and 21 for others crap.

      1. And 26 for yet more exceptions.

        I sometimes read sci-fi stories where one has to pass a test to become an adult. I abhor the idea of a government test of any sort, let alone for adulthood, but I like the general idea.

        How about self-emancipation? At some point, kids want to be on their own. Certain things could be considered self-emancipation, irrevocable and complete: signing any contract in your own name (rent, buying a car) whether or not your parents are co-signers, registering to vote, joining the military. I’d add throw in arrest for a felony, but the ways cops and prosecutors overcharge as bargaining leverage, you’d have too many premature adults in prison at age 12.

        Of course, these are kind of circular, in that no one will rent an apartment or sell you a car under loan unless they think you are already an adult. But something along those self-emancipation lines would suit me.

        Then you’d have to have a way for parents to kick out a child who wants to leach off them instead of take on personal responsibility.

        1. ” Certain things could be considered self-emancipation, irrevocable and complete: signing any contract”

          So now all the 10-year-olds with cellphones are voters, and this fixes the problems the felons have… how?

          1. How did those 10 year olds self-emancipate?

            1. By signing up for a phone contract.

              1. I wondered if you’d be that simple-minded.

                What company would be so stupid as to sign a contract with a 10 year old?

                Contracts are voluntary on both sides. No one can force a phone company to provide service.

                1. Florists beg to differ…

                  1. Those aren’t contracts.

                2. “What company would be so stupid as to sign a contract with a 10 year old?”

                  One that wants the money, and believes the 10-year-old has it.

              2. Ten year olds do not sign up for phone contracts.

                1. Guess again.

        2. “Hmmmm…” thought the Democrat. “On the one hand, easy self-emancipation of voters as young as 12 might benefit us. On the other hand, it severs the connection to the parents’ (and their insurance’s) relatively deep pockets when kids do something stupid and get sued, which will make our primary donation source angry.

          “What to do…what to do…”

        3. And 14 for more exceptions like medical records, especially made for abortion.

    3. “The rule should be, if you’re thought fit to be in polite society, you should have ALL your civil liberties restored. All, or none.”

      Why? Why should a person who commits, say, repeated DUI get their driving license back as soon as their prison sentence is over? Why is “all or nothing” a better option than one that is nuanced?

      1. Doesn’t have to be. The sentence for a DUI could include some length of supervised release, call it parole or probation, where you are given a second chance to be free with specific exceptions, like no drinking or no driving. Repeat offenses could lengthen the term or add new restrictions, like a breath tester in any cars you drive. After enough convictions, the restrictions would get so tight that you;d either re-offend immediately or be required to spend all time away from work in lockup.

        This is different from restrictions after release from lockup or supervision. This is part of the sentence, for a specific time.

      2. I’m sorry, I must have missed the amendment that made driving a “civil liberty”.

        1. Yep, you must’ve.

          1. He didn’t miss anything. The Court has held that the right to drive is not guaranteed by the Constitution. And no, I do not recall the specific case at hand.

  5. As soon as we find them responsible enough to own a gun, restore their privilege to vote

    1. Because owning a gun is less hazardous to society than voting?

      1. Is the US a democracy or not?

        If it is, then US voters control the US military and the US nuclear arsenal, which is far more dangerous than privately-owned firearms.

        If not, the vote is inconsequential, and therefore deprivation is inconsequential.

      2. Non-taxpayers voting for free stuff (90% of Democrat Party voters) is much more hazardous to the long term future of America than guns are.

        1. See. This is my point. Here is someone who wants to deprive felons the right to vote based on HOW they might vote. What incentive would someone who thought like this to reform the system so we have fewer felons in the first place?

          1. The only people who vote for Democrats are either evil, self-serving, or stupid, all categories upon which depriving the franchise is legitimate.

        2. I too fear the loss of gun rights, as then only criminals and totalitarians would be armed. However, this notion that 90% of the Democratic Party pas no taxes is absolutely BS.

          Everyone pays taxes. Sales taxes, payroll taxes, excises, duties, fees…. the list is endless. Now a substantial portion pay no income tax, but that’s because they don’t earn enough to have to pay. Also, payroll taxes are regressive. They go down, proportionately, as they cap out on @ $132,000 in income, allowing a millionaire to pay the same as a middle class payer.

          1. Completely ridiculous, as is the absurd argument that FICA is regressive.

          2. A significant segment of the Democratic party pays no net taxes. But you could say the same of any government employee, I suppose. Not just the ones paid just to vote Democratic.

            1. “A significant segment of the Democratic party pays no net taxes.”

              Assumption. And a meaningless one, at that, because you haven’t laid out your formula for calculating “net”.

          3. They both pay the same tax rate however the millionaire pays far more in actual taxes than the middle class payer. If one wanted to be fair, there should be one rate for all people whether one make $10K or $10M.

            1. The millionaire also gets more. If the fire department keeps my house from burning down, and the fire department also keeps the millioinaire’s house from burning down, I had less at risk. If a mugger steals my wallet, and steals a millionaire’s wallet, the millionaire lost more. If I get carjacked, I’m out my 15-year-old truck. If the carjacker get’s the millionaire’s Masarati…
              Since the millionaire has more to lose in a breakdown of society, they pay more to keep it in place.

              1. The happy man with lots of friends and family gets more protection from police and fire services, so therefore he should pay more?
                The fat man has more for police to protect, so he should pay more?

                You argument is vague and emotional, but distinctly lacks in logic. Can you try it again, without an unjustified arbitrary valuation system?

              2. “Since the millionaire has more to lose in a breakdown of society, they pay more to keep it in place.”

                Yes, they do, even under a flat-tax regime. Now do marginal tax rates.

  6. In our society, voting is how you get the attention of representatives, and getting the attention of representatives is how you get laws changed. So, if there is a problem with too many rights and privileges being stripped from felons, if they lack the franchise they have no mechanism to address and correct that problem.
    So, I agree (though not with you) that the FIRST problem is disenfranchisement.

    1. Agree. I would suggest treating released felons similar to foreign nationals with residency visas; including the time period before one can receive the full Rights as a US citizen.

    2. This assumes felons as a bloc will be a political force politicians will feel a need to reckon with. Don’t see it at all.

      1. It doesn’t assume that at all. It just assumes that if felons DON’T vote, politicians will feel free to ignore or discount their interests.

        1. Naive to think that politicians would not ignore felon interests because felons can vote. It only makes sense if felons wield power as a collective force (as other minorities have done).

      2. “This assumes felons as a bloc will be a political force politicians will feel a need to reckon with.”

        This assumes no such thing.

        1. I gave you too much credit then.

  7. It goes along with the pattern. Their concern is how “lesser people” can be used to accomplish goals to benefit the powerful. Felons are a resource to be used to secure more power.

  8. denying this right to even a ‘subset of the population’ jeopardizes democracy for the entire population

    Which is why denying the right to vote to children and non-citizens has destroyed democracy in ever nation that’s tried it.

    Accordingly, I would like here to express my loyalty to King John, fourth of that name and seventh member of the House of Adams to rule the United States. May death come swiftly to his enemies.

    1. “jeopardizes” doesn’t mean “eliminates”.

      1. Tell you what. If you can show a single case where democracy was destroyed by denying 10-year-olds the right to vote, I’ll grant the assertion that it “jeopardizes” democracy in all cases.

        1. “jeopardizes” doesn’t mean “destroyed”, either.

          1. If you can jeopardize something without the thing it’s in jeopardy of every happening, something strange is going on.

            1. True enough. not particularly relevant, tho.

  9. According to this map,

    https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/voter-restoration/felony-disenfranchisement-laws-map

    In most states felons can vote *no later than* the time they complete their sentence – which sometimes includes probation and parole and sometimes includes only the prison sentence.

    A minority of states will deny some or all convicted felons the ballot even after their sentences are over, but these are clingy backward states, and what-self-respecting felon would want to live there?

    1. Thanks. Interesting map. I had no idea so many states allowed any ex-prisoners to vote.

      1. At least one allows CURRENT inmates to vote.

  10. “Game The System” Gail Heriot — is she a Republican? A conservative? An “independent?” A right-winger? A non-partisan? An honest person? A scheming liar?

    (If my comments in this context break any limitation period with respect to mendacious and partisan political conduct among ostensible scholars, I am ready to comply with all applicable standards after someone identifies them.)

    1. You’re questioning how she identifies?

      Are you one of those transphobes who wouldn’t let transwomen compete in wrestling?

      1. The Rev is referring to Ms. Heriot’s qualifications for her spot on the Civil Rights Commission. The opening she filled was specifically designated for a political independent.

        Not long before her appointment she switched her voter registration from Republican to Independent, and lo and behold, was named to the seat.

        Arthur finds this not entirely aboveboard, as do I.

        1. Well, certainly, you can’t pretend to be something you’re not simply because it makes you feel better to do so, and gains you extra benefits. I mean, who advocates things like that?

        2. Independents are supposed to be Democrats, it is known.

          1. Mr. Perot would kick you in the shins for claiming this.

          2. No. They are supposed to be independents.

            1. Like Bernie?

  11. One issue with denying voting rights is the simple fact that we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. One thing we would not want to do is create disincentives for dealing with this problem. But if putting people in prison is ever seen as a good way to prevent people from voting as a political strategy, we will in fact disincentivize reform.

    Another issue is that the population who is locked up actually has some knowledge that the rest of us do not. So, excluding those views from the decision-making process might be counterproductive.

    A final point. Talking about people being arrested again can be deceptive. Parole conditions are often numerous and illogical. Yet, violating them can cause a person to go back to prison. If we are going to talk about people arrested again, we should limit the data to people arrested for independent crimes, not mere parole violations.

    1. Better still would be to limit the data to subsequent CONVICTIONS for independent crimes, not arrests. And there’s an argument to be made for excluding drug offenses. I’m sure there are arguments for excluding some other things, as well. Meaning that talking about recidivism may leave people talking about completely different things.

      1. Less felons? What are you, an anarchist?

        /too many damn people

        1. Could you try again, this time with complete sentences?

          Or, in short, WTF?

    2. Really?
      Perhaps you can show us where you are deriving your data as a parole violation may or may not be a new criminal charge. IMHO you are making a BS claim similar to the “assault weapon” hoax.

      1. So, you’re saying about the same thing he did, but you think it’s BS?

  12. The practical point is that is is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain an effective electoral coalition for Republican preferences (backwardness, intolerance, social conservatism).

    Soon enough, not even voter suppression, gerrymandering, census manipulation, and our system’s structural amplification of backwater votes (at the Electoral College and Senate) will be enough to keep Republicans afloat in national elections. (Right-wingers will continue to lord over many rural and southern stretches for a while, though.)

    I gather a majority of the commission (which is designed to be equally split among Republicans and Democrats, although some lousy, cheating Republicans gamed that system a few years ago) approved the report that the two right-winger malcontents are criticizing. This is another example of how lonely it will be to advocate for backwardness, intolerance, and superstition in a nation that becomes less white, less backward, less rural, less intolerant, and less religious every day.

    1. As the ACLU map I linked to above demonstrates, felons who have completed their sentences have voting rights in all the forward-thinking, enlightened, progressive states. In the wokest states, even people on parole or probation can vote, and a couple of states let felons vote from their cells.

      The only states where disenfranchisement outlasts a felon’s sentence are backwater clinger states which no self-respecting felon would want to live in, anyway. We need not concern ourselves with the left-behind clinger felons in the backward states – the important thing is that in those states which represent the American future, felons already vote despite the bigotry of the dissenters on the Civil Rights Commission.

      And once again, Kirkland, I should warn you that if you don’t drop the transphobic language, you too might be left behind by progress. I’m calling you out because you question Herriot’s self-identification as an independent, the same tactic which the transphobes use toward those who identify as other than their birth sex.

      1. “And once again, Kirkland, I should warn you”

        Take it to the Volokh Conspiracy Board of Censors. That bunch is always itching to ban a liberal. Or moderate. Or libertarian . . . or anyone other than a movement conservative.

        1. I’m not referring to this blog, but to the Scientific Laws of History and Progress.

          After much recent struggle, we’ve shed the superstition that biological sex is some fixed thing. Now Science(TM) has shown us that we can be whatever sex, or combination of sexes, we want.

          But people like you threaten to undermine this kind of progress.

          If even your political affiliation is fixed at birth, and cannot be modified based on one’s own desires, preferences and perceived needs, then how much more would you sex be fixed at birth! And that would contradict Science(TM).

          Therefore, you are objectively a reactionary clinger, and will be Left Behind at the great day of reckoning, when the intolerant clingers are separated from the tolerant and modern. And verily the intolerant shall be cast into Wal-Mart with the Republicans and sinners.

          1. As a libertarian it was always sad to me people had to justify their freedom with “I was born this way.”

  13. One point the OP author doesn’t address, at least not in this OP, is the claim that officials in some localities falsely identify voters as being on the felon rolls. Maybe that claim is just a fable, or happens far less often than the claim implies, and maybe the false identifications are simply mistakes and not efforts to keep a certain type of voter away from the polls. While I’m more inclined than not to believe the worst parts of that claim, I have to admit I don’t know.

    But….putting an end to disfranchisement as a collateral consequence of felony convictions would fix what that claim is criticizing. I’m sure officials will find other ways to deny voting rights, but felony disfranchisement would no longer be one of them.

    1. I hasten to add I don’t mean that as a criticism of the OP, just food for thought on why ending felony disfranchisement could be a good thing.

  14. Thank you for this completely pointless gripe about “progressive” priorities, Gail. I don’t have any idea what “collateral consequences” of felony convictions we ought to be worried about, in your view. I also don’t understand any better why there are some legally-imposed, post-punishment “collateral consequences” that are justified or compatible with liberty/the Constitution, apart from a lazy hand-wave at “recidivism rates” that neither proves the point they’re raised to demonstrate nor avoids rather obviously begging the question.

    Here is one reason why voting rights are central to any broader discussion about felons’ rights: it is only through the political process that felons can hope to have any real say in the policies and laws that impose “collateral consequences” on them. It is thus a structural solution at the center of a wider net of more practical problems that policy-makers may not be in the best position to solve themselves. In other words – should politicians focus on restrictions on where felons can live, or professions from which they are barred? The answer may come in the form of: what do their felon constituents find to be the relevant?

    1. When Republicans — oops, pardon me, independents — such as Gail Heriot are whining, America must be continuing to improve.

      A toast to the culture war! Let’s have another half-century of this.

      1. Art, this is the *third* time you’ve made use of the same kind of rhetoric as transphobes, denying people the right to identify how they want. If you persist in this behavior, you will join the ranks of the benighted deplorables whom you criticize, and be left behind while the rest of the country is progressing into the brave new world you envision.

        1. He IS clinging bitterly to such language …

  15. The fundamental problem is that a huge and increasing number of net tax consumers are being supported by an insufficient number of net tax producers. The simple solution is restriction of the right to vote to net tax producers, active military, and veterans, i.e., those who pay the piper (including net tax paying felons) call the tune.

    1. Right, exactly.

      “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

    2. “The fundamental problem is that a huge and increasing number of net tax consumers are being supported by an insufficient number of net tax producers.”

      Except, of course, that it’s VERY hard to avoid paying ANY taxes. A small number of states have no sales tax, but in the ones that do, you’d have to barter for everything to avoid the taxes. Excise taxes are also similarly nearly inescapable if one wishes to be mobile (gas tax) or communicate with others (taxes on phones and Internet services).
      Now, you CAN avoid paying income tax by the simple expedient of not having any income (an avenue available to anyone who wishes to pursue it.)
      Finally, of course, another option is to spend enough money on lobbying to get legislators to custom-write you some nice perks in the tax law.

      1. Note that word, “net”.

        Jack is referring to people who get more direct benefits from the government than the taxes they pay, so they are “net” beneficiaries of the system.

        1. You guys don’t think midwestern farmers should be allowed to vote?

          1. Or retirees, either, apparently. Well, there goes the GOP.

          2. I’m just asking that you correctly characterize what he’s saying. Is doing that somehow offensive?

            1. So, he wants businesses that extract raw materials from public lands to pay their way, instead of getting subsidized by the owners of that public lands. OK, that’s a good start. But when the big lumber companies stop buying timber on federal lands, won’t that increase the fire danger?

            2. And I’m just saying that the calculations, not that I approve of the idea, are perhaps more complex, and produce different results, than he thinks.

              I mean, I read about farmers struggling, some going broke, at least partly due to Trump’s idiotic trade policies, so I can’t imagine their tax bills are very much. OTOH, they get their subsidies and price supports – which are very much a welfare payment, so maybe they are net tax consumers just like many other people.

              Now, I don’t want to deprive them of the vote because of that, though I do think they are a perfect example of voters getting what they want, good and hard.

    3. I see no reason why, in this bizarre re-alignment of political power, you would grant military personnel any special rights. Why shouldn’t they be subject to the “net tax producer” rule?

      Anyway, if you knew anything about who actually pays taxes, and who benefits from them, I’d imagine you’d be far less enthusiastic about this proposal than you seem to be. It would generally concentrate political power in high-cost, urban areas.

      1. The military and the net tax payers make all else possible. Of course clueless victims of progressive educators will not agree, but the net tax consumers ought to thank their enablers every day.

        1. The Founders tried to limit Congress’ ability to keep a standing military.

          1. Might want to look up relevancy.

            1. In the sense that the relevancy is obvious, perhaps you’re the one who needs some research time?

              1. “relevancy is obvious” could be “through a looking glass.”

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  17. “Maybe it’s just me, but I like rather like shampoo assistants “with a past.””

    Even if that includes a conviction for trying to drown previous customers?

    1. Gives you something to talk about while they work.

  18. The only argument I see here (in favor of retaining laws which deny ex-felons the franchise) is that doing so doesn’t make reintegration much harder.

    If I missed something in the OP, please let me know. Because “it doesn’t make things much worse” (more precisely, “it doesn’t make *this specific thing* much worse”, which is even lamer) is a pretty weak rationale for denying one of the most fundamental rights of citizenship.

  19. Quote: In West Virginia, for example, “waxing specialists” and “shampoo assistants” must demonstrate “good moral character” to a government board. Maybe it’s just me, but I like rather like shampoo assistants “with a past.”

    Personally I would rather my “waxing specialist” had a past than my “shampoo assistant”. Area of work is important!

  20. 42 U.S.C. § 1975 established the Commission on Civil Rights.

    42 U.S. Code § 1975d specifies that the Commission on Civil Rights terminated on September 30, 1996.

    Congress has continued to authorize spending on the Commission on Civil Rights, including the provision:

    “That none of the funds appropriated in this paragraph shall be used for any activity or expense that is not explicitly authorized by section 3 of the Civil Rights Commission Act of 1983”

    Since Section 3 of the Civil Rights Commission Act of 1983 (along with the rest of the act) terminated in 1996, how is continued operation of this Commission authorized?

    Maybe a more important question would be: who has standing to challenge the continued expenditure of funds for legislation Congress explicitly terminated and has explicitly NOT reauthorized?

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