Pennsylvania for Fair Elections: New Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Alabama’s Felony Disenfranchisement Law
The Campaign Legal Center, the Voting Rights Institute, and the law firm of Jenner & Block, alongside a star-studded team of civil rights lawyers, filed a lawsuit in Alabama district court on behalf of U.S. citizens with past felony convictions who have been denied the right to vote due to the state’s strict, discriminatory and arbitrary felony disenfranchisement system.
“Today we begin the journey on behalf of a quarter million Alabama citizens who have felony convictions and who have been disenfranchised by this system. Citizens with past felony convictions work and pay taxes, and should have a say in deciding their community’s and the nation’s laws that directly impact their lives,” said Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. “Denying these citizens with past felony convictions the opportunity to fully integrate as members of society sends the message that they will permanently be treated as second-class citizens.”
“Felony disenfranchisement laws have the undeniable effect of diminishing the political power of minority communities,” said Danielle Lang, voting rights counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “As our legal complaint shows, these laws are rooted in the racially discriminatory policies of the Jim Crow era, continue to primarily harm people of color and distort our democracy.”
Lang continued, “In Alabama, a wealthy person with a conviction may be able to vote whereas an impoverished person with a conviction cannot. Even ignoring the starkly disproportionate discriminatory effect of felon disenfranchisement, the requirement that someone pay back ballooning court fees and fines in order to vote has a much harsher impact on the minority community.”