Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Jim Crow-era Mississippi bans blocking some felons from voting

Jun 30, 2023, 11:27 AM

FILE - A person previously convicted of a felony felon holds a sign about voter suppression during ...

FILE - A person previously convicted of a felony felon holds a sign about voter suppression during a Poor People's Campaign assembly in Jackson, Miss., on Monday, April 19, 2021. The demonstrator was among speakers who called for Mississippi to simplify the way it restores voting rights to people convicted of some felonies. On Friday, June 30, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not consider a case challenging Mississippi's practice of removing voting rights from people convicted of some crimes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will not stop Mississippi from removing voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies — a practice that originated in the Jim Crow era with the intent of stopping Black men from influencing elections.

The court declined to reconsider a 2022 decision by the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said Mississippi had remedied the discriminatory intent of the original provisions in the state constitution by altering the list of disenfranchising crimes.

In a dissent Friday, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that the authors of the Mississippi Constitution in 1890 made clear that they intended to exclude Black people by removing voting rights for felony convictions in crimes they thought Black people were more likely to commit, including forgery, arson and bigamy.

The list of disenfranchising crimes was “adopted for an illicit discriminatory purpose,” Brown Jackson wrote in the dissent joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Mississippi’s felony disenfranchisement provisions 125 years ago, and “this Court blinks again today,” Brown Jackson wrote.

“Constitutional wrongs do not right themselves,” she wrote. “With its failure to take action, the Court has missed yet another opportunity to learn from its mistakes.”

In 1950, Mississippi dropped burglary from the list of disenfranchising crimes. Murder and rape were added to the list in 1968. Attorneys representing the state argued that those changes “cured any discriminatory taint on the original provision,” and the appeals court agreed.

The Mississippi attorney general issued an opinion in 2009 that expanded the list to 22 crimes, including timber larceny, carjacking, felony-level shoplifting and felony-level bad check writing.

Attorneys from the Mississippi Center for Justice filed a lawsuit in 2017 to challenge the disenfranchising provisions, arguing that authors of the state’s constitution showed racist intent when they chose which felonies would cause people to lose their voting rights. The lawsuit did not challenge the disenfranchisement for conviction of murder or rape.

To regain voting rights in Mississippi now, a person convicted of a disenfranchising crime must receive a governor’s pardon or must win permission from two-thirds of the state House and Senate. Legislators in recent years have restored voting rights for only a few people.

National News

FILE - Traffic streaks by the Cuban Embassy in Washington early Saturday morning, Nov. 26, 2016. U....

Associated Press

Molotov cocktail is thrown at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, but there’s no damage and no injuries

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, but there was no significant damage and no one was injured. U.S. law enforcement officials were investigating. Secret Service officers were called around 8 p.m. Sunday to respond to the attack on a busy street in the Adams-Morgan section […]

4 hours ago

FILE - The Amazon app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. Afte...

Associated Press

Amazon is investing up to $4 billion in AI startup Anthropic in growing tech battle

Amazon is investing up to $4 billion in Anthropic and taking a minority stake in the artificial intelligence startup, the two companies said Monday.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina high school mourns after shooting kills 3 teenage students

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina high school is in mourning after three teenage students were killed in a weekend shooting. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting in Columbia, the state capital, just after 2 p.m. Sunday, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. They found four people with gunshot wounds, […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A passenger disembarks from Amtrak's Sunset Limited at its final stop in New Orleans, Nov. 2...

Associated Press

Biden administration announces $1.4 billion to improve rail safety and boost capacity in 35 states

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it has awarded more than $1.4 billion to projects that improve railway safety and boost capacity, with much of the money coming from the 2021 infrastructure law. “These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Sweat covers the face of Juan Carlos Biseno after dancing to music from his headphones as af...

Associated Press

After summer’s extreme weather, more Americans see climate change as a culprit, AP-NORC poll shows

Kathleen Maxwell has lived in Phoenix for more than 20 years, but this summer was the first time she felt fear, as daily high temperatures soared to 110 degrees or hotter and kept it up for a record-shattering 31 consecutive days. “It’s always been really hot here, but nothing like this past summer,” said Maxwell, […]

9 hours ago

Hudson, 7, left, Callahan, 13, middle, and Keegan Pruente, 10, right, stand outside their school on...

Associated Press

More schools are adopting 4-day weeks. For parents, the challenge is day 5

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — It’s a Monday in September, but with schools closed, the three children in the Pruente household have nowhere to be. Callahan, 13, contorts herself into a backbend as 7-year-old Hudson fiddles with a balloon and 10-year-old Keegan plays the piano. Like a growing number of students around the U.S, the Pruente […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Jim Crow-era Mississippi bans blocking some felons from voting