Bolstering a proposal which was denounced by centrists and conservatives as going “too far” in the fight for voting rights when Sen. Bernie Sanders backed it during the Democratic presidential primary, the American Bar Association won applause from rights advocates on Thursday regarding its support for full enfranchisement for current and former prison inmates.
At its annual meeting earlier this month, the ABA adopted a resolution stating the organization would urge all levels of government to “repeal laws that disenfranchise persons based upon criminal conviction [and] restore voting rights to those currently and formerly incarcerated, including those on probation, parole, or any other community-based correctional program.”
The national lawyers’ association further said (pdf) that “no person convicted of crime” should be disenfranchised in the U.S. because of failure to pay fines, court fees, or other payments as a result of their conviction.
ABA officially supports voting rights for incarcerated people 🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/4zklx97wGQ
— Emily Reina Dindial🦇 (@emilydindial) August 13, 2020
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who was elected last year to be commonwealth’s attorney, the top prosecutor for Arlington and Falls Church, Virginia was among the reform-minded attorneys who applauded the resolution—and wondered why she was criticized during her campaign for expressing support for prisoner’s voting rights.
“Glad to see that ‘radical’ organization, the ABA, joined the fight,” tweeted Dehghani-Tafti.
When I came out during my campaign in favor of incarcerated persons voting, some told me it was a bridge too far. But there’s no logic to flatly denying voting rights when we don’t flatly deny other rights. Glad to see that “radical” organization (the ABA) joined the fight. https://t.co/FQbKwCzLQe
— Parisa Dehghani-Tafti (@parisa4justice) August 13, 2020
The proposal was introduced at the organization’s annual meeting, which was held between August 3 and 4.
“This Resolution follows a long American Bar Association tradition affirming and supporting the expansion of Americans’ right to vote,” the proposal presented at the conference reads. “This Resolution supports that progression by urging removal of restrictions on voting by incarcerated citizens and citizens under an order of imprisonment. In other words, beyond the many state laws that currently regulate re-enfranchisement after incarceration, this resolution calls for a guarantee of the right to vote for prisoners while incarcerated.”
Wendy K. Mariner, chair of the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, asked the ABA to consider that prisoner disenfranchisement laws “have been used to circumvent the right of African Americans to vote” and has disproportionately impacted Black and Latino people; that because Americans do not have their citizenship revoked when convicted of a crime, nor should they lose the rights that come with citizenship; and that incarcerated people in Maine, Vermont, and Puerto Rico already retain their right to vote.
Several countries including Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, and South Africa also allow people convicted of felonies to vote.
“The right to vote is fundamental to United States citizenship and traditional notions of human dignity,” wrote Mariner. “Moreover, the right to vote recognizes and affirms each individual’s stake in our system of governance and encourages each one to participate productively in civic life.”
Disenfranchisement leaves inmates at the mercy of voters outside of prison, the proposal noted, as prisoners are unable to express their views about who should oversee the facilities in which they’re held.
“The Mississippi Constitution provides that people convicted of 10 enumerated crimes permanently lose their right to vote,” wrote Mariner. “The state’s Attorney General has expanded the list to include another 12 offenses, such as carjacking and timber larceny. The funding and management of prisons are issues that directly affect incarcerated people and upon which they should have a vote.”
“Kudos to the ABA,” tweeted Eli Savit, a progressive Democratic nominee for prosecutor of Washtenaw County, Michigan, after the resolution was adopted.
The ABA’s action came weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, which permitted Florida to bar former inmates from voting if they owe court fees or fines.
The ruling sparked outrage among civil rights advocates last month and went against the will of Florida voters, 65% of whom approved Amendment 4 in November 2018. The amendment allowed former prisoners to vote if they had completed “all terms of [their] sentence,” but after assuming office in 2019, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state GOP legislators retroactively changed the measure to include the payment of fees in addition to the completion of probation and prison time.
In this time of Amendment 4 and fines and fees being used to prevent voting, this ABA Resolution seems a pretty pointed critique@FLRightsRestore @desmondmeade @Volzie https://t.co/GZx9pW4kyo pic.twitter.com/vXih2mRFvP
— Joshua B. Hoe (@JoshuaBHoe) August 14, 2020
“This ABA resolution seems like a pretty pointed critique” of such disenfranchisement efforts, said Joshua B. Hoe, host of the podcast Decarceration Nation.
That was no debate — it was a brawl
Do we really have to pick a debate winner in a brawl? Do the rules matter?
Didn’t we know ahead of time that Donald Trump would slash viciously and personally and pretend that he is an outsider to Washington and that Joe Biden would try to look presidential, mostly stick to his message while wryly noting that Trump was lying once again? If there was a substantive question or response that was a surprise, it slipped by me.
It may have been important to election prospects, but as a debate, it was a pretty sad commentary on our times. And yes, the fact-checking industry was hard at work (yes, Mr. President, there are 100 million Americans with health pre-conditions.)
Here are 5 stunning moments from Biden and Trump’s first debate
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off for the first time Tuesday night in the inaugural presidential debate of the 2020 general election.
It was a catastrophe. Trump was belligerent, mendacious, and overbearing, refusing to let Biden answer questions most of the time without interruption. Biden managed to get in several good moments, but he was often bulled over by the president's bluster and was unable to make a complete argument.
But Trump didn't really seem to get the better of Biden. By being so aggressive, he came off desperate, dishonest, and out of control. It was not a good look for a sitting president. And it completely undermined the supposed point of the debate: informing voters about the issues. Instead, it showcased the candidates' respective personalities, at least to some degree. While unpleasant, it may have been informative in its own way.
Trump blasted for ‘avalanche of lying’ in brutal takedown by CNN fact-checker
CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale provided a brutal dose of reality after President Donald Trump constantly mislead Americans with his false claims during the first 2020 general election presidential debate.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced Dale by recapping that, in his opinion, "clearly this debate was an embarrassment for the United States of America -- a clear embarrassment."
"How much was fact?" Blitzer asked. "How much was false?"
"Well, it depended Wolf on who we were listening to," Dale replied.
"I think it's important for us as journalists to say when both sides are not alike -- and they were not alike tonight," he explained.