Alabama Sued

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on July 23, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) has decided to sue the state of Alabama over how it may disenfranchise voters.  In a story in today’s New York Times, the ACLU says that Alabama is too “expansive” in its policy regarding the voting rights of felons:  

“Like virtually all states, Alabama restricts the rights of many felons to vote, but in Monday’s suit the group contends the state is going beyond even its own laws. People convicted of nonviolent offenses like income tax evasion or forgery are at risk of being turned away by voter registrars in Alabama, the A.C.L.U. says.

Alabama does not bar all felons from voting, only those convicted of crimes involving “moral turpitude.” In 2003, the civil liberties group says, the State Legislature clearly defined what those crimes are: murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, incest, sexual torture and nine other crimes mainly involving pornography and abuses against children.

At issue in the lawsuit is not the list enacted in law but an expanded “moral turpitude” list developed by the state’s attorney general, Troy King, in 2005. That list includes about a dozen additional offenses, most of them nonviolent, and several including the sale of marijuana.

The A.C.L.U. contends that the attorney general’s list violates the Alabama Constitution, saying only the Legislature can decide what crimes fit the “moral turpitude” category. Georgia, by contrast, bars those convicted of moral turpitude from voting but promulgates no list of crimes fitting that definition. A.C.L.U. officials say that results in a “blanket” policy of disenfranchisement.”

 The disenfranchisement of African Americans, especially males, in the south is nothing new.  Some reports say that a quarter of African American males in the south are ineligible to vote because of past felonies.  That massive number without question impacts electoral politics in the south.  This suit certainly could have a tremendous effect on elections in Alabama and lay a blueprint for other southern states to follow.   

This story and the outcome of the suit are certainly ones that requires watching.


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