In comments delivered yesterday at the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights Criminal Justice Forum at Georgetown University Law School, Attorney General Eric Holder argued that state laws imposing a lifetime ban on voting rights for felons should be repealed, according to Politico:
In remarks prepared for delivery at a criminal justice conference Tuesday, Holder takes aim at state laws which strip voting rights from those convicted of serious crimes.
"It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision," Holder is to tell the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights Criminal Justice Forum at Georgetown law school. "These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive. By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes."
He actually went further than that, implying that lifetime voting bans for felons are racist, because the high incarceration rate for black males means that blacks are disproportionately disenfranchised by such laws.
We have discussed this before, when in 2010, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Washington's felon voting ban, with a ruling that would restore voting rights not only to ex-cons, but to currently incarcerated felons, as well. The rationale then, as now, was that with blacks stopped by law enforcement, searched, arrested, convicted and imprisoned at significantly higher rates than equally criminal white offenders, such bans are racially discriminatory, and therefore at odds with the Voting Rights Act.
In another parallel between the 9th Circuit Court ruling and Holder's remarks yesterday, conspicuously absent from the list of concerns is any mention of the felons' permanent loss of the right to effective self-defense. As this column argued then:
Since 1968, with the enactment of the Gun Control Act, federal law has banned all felons (whether violent or not) from so much as touching a firearm, even if they finished serving their sentences decades ago. With their debt to society long paid, they are still barred from an effective means of self-defense. In releasing them, the justice system has determined that they are safe enough to rejoin society--to buy matches and gasoline, fertilizer and fuel-oil, utility knives, etc. I am fully in agreement with National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea's frequent assertion that if someone is so dangerous he cannot be trusted with a gun, he cannot be trusted to roam free among the populace without a keeper.
The Obama administration has even argued that employers who base hiring decisions on criminal background checks may be guilty of unfair, and again, even racist, hiring practices, but offers no objection to lifetime disarmament of the former criminal.
Actually, when one considers the federal ban on even body armor for convicted felons, upheld in another 9th Circuit Court ruling--a sheerly defensive measure, it becomes difficult to attribute the Obama administration's position on voting to a great deal of concern about felons' well-being. Such a law, after all, mandates that any felon who is shot be penetrated by the bullet.
There is, however, one explanation as to why a rabidly anti-gun administration would push for felons' voting rights, as we have also discussed before:
We know that the recidivism rate of felons is quite significant. A convicted felon planning to return to his felonious ways has an incentive to vote for every restrictive gun law that comes along, because, as Sammy "The Bull" points out, the more difficult it is for the rest of us to have guns, the better, easier, and safer it is for the thugs. Gun laws don't matter to the criminals--they are, after all, criminals.
For those not familiar, the Sammy "The Bull" reference was about a former Mafia enforcer Sammy Gravano, who was very much in favor of "gun control," for precisely that reason. As quoted by Gun Owners of America, from a 1999 interview in Vanity Fair:
"Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters," Gravano said. "I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You will pull the trigger with a lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins.
That's just the kind of voter this administration wants, and now it's working to get more of them.
- Federal court recognizes felons' right to vote--what about self-defense?
- More about voting rights for felons
- Federal court upholds felon body armor ban
- If gun rights were treated like voting rights
- Holder position on voter ID exposes racial discrimination against gun ownership
- Justice Department Voter ID opposition glaringly inconsistent with gun stance
- Government sues employers for background checks; wants to expand checks for guns