Jim Crow Era voting laws could be removed in Mississippi
The United States Court of Appeals for the fifth Circuit will review a Mississippi law that prevents certain convicted felons from voting.
According to the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, individuals that were convicted of certain felonies would never be restored their voting rights. That original list included: bribery, burglary, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretenses, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy.
In 1950, burglary was removed, and in 1986, murder and rape were added.
The current lawsuit was originally filed by the Mississippi Center for Justice, referring to the existing law as a “Jim-Crow era provision” that was made part of the 1890 Mississippi Constitution.
MCJ, as well as others, including 1896 Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Cooper, believe that these stipulations were created under racist notions, assuming black people were more likely to commit these crimes.
MCJ filed the suit against the Secretary of State’s office using the case of two black men who lost the right to vote after felony convictions. The action was filed in 2017 and originally brought before a federal district judge in Jackson but it was denied. The suit only calls for the nullification for those listed in the original constitution, not murder and rape.
A report by The Sentencing Project showed that of the state’s that have changed their laws in the last 25 years to expand voting access to those with felony convictions, 5.2 million Americans still cannot vote. That is roughly 2.3 percent of the population.
The Secretary of State’s office said they did not have a comment on the case at this time, as it is pending litigation.