Posted on August 26, 2022

Court: Mississippi Can Continue Blocking Felons From Voting

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press, August 25, 2022

People convicted of certain felonies in Mississippi still won’t be able to vote, as a lawsuit that sought to automatically reinstate their voting rights was struck down by a federal appeals court Wednesday.

Attorneys who challenged the provision had argued the authors of the state’s 1890 constitution showed racist intent when they chose which felonies would cause people to lose the right to vote, picking crimes they thought were more likely to be committed by Black people.

The Mississippi Center for Justice brought the lawsuit, and attorney Rob McDuff said the center will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling handed down Wednesday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Vangela M. Wade, the center’s president and CEO, said the ruling “doubles down” on years of Black disenfranchisement.

“Access to democracy should not hinge on outdated laws designed to prevent people from voting based on the color of their skin,” Wade said in a statement.

Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution strips voting rights from people convicted of 10 felonies, including forgery, arson and bigamy. The state 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.


A majority of the appeals court agreed with the state’s arguments.

“Plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of showing that the current version of Section 241 was motivated by discriminatory intent,” the majority wrote. “In addition, Mississippi has conclusively shown that any taint associated with Section 241 has been cured.”