(PresidentialHill.com)- The Supreme Court is being asked to consider revisiting the felon disfranchisement provision of the Mississippi Constitution and restore felon voting rights, according to a report from The Epoch Times. Currently, the state’s constitution reportedly prevents “certain” felons from voting, which the left-wing civil rights group petitioning the law says is rooted in racial discrimination.
Harness v. Watson is expected to reach the Supreme Court in the coming days. According to the filing, the petitioners, Roy Harness and Kamal Karriem, are defined as disenfranchised African-American citizens of Mississippi bringing suit against Michael Watson, the Republican secretary of state.
Harness, convicted of forgery in 1986, and Kamal Karriem, a former Columbus City Council member convicted of embezzlement in 2005, have both completed their sentences. Mississippi Center for Justice, the group representing the men, claim that Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution permanently prevents from voting anyone who was convicted of crimes that the framers of the original document believed were largely committed by black people.
Under the state constitution, those convicted of murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretenses, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy, are barred from voting.
“It was one of several voting provisions in the 1890 Constitution designed to take the vote away from Black citizens who had obtained it during the Reconstruction period after the abolition of slavery and the end of the Civil War,” the summary provided by the civil rights group reads.
In August, a federal district court upheld the ban, concluding that it was bound to the 1998 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in Cotton v. Fordice, which concluded itself that the “discriminatory taint associated with the original version” of the state constitution was scrubbed when burglary was removed as a crime in Section 241.
The 10-member majority in the case acknowledged that the state constitution was “steeped in racism,” that the “state was motivated by a desire to discriminate against blacks,” and that Section 241 was a “device that the convention exploited to deny the franchise to blacks.” But they ultimately held that the racism was “cured’ by later amendments.