The Sentencing Project, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed an amicus brief in a Louisiana appellate court in support of plaintiffs-appellants, who are challenging Louisiana’s felony disenfranchisement policy. More than 71,000 Louisianans under probation or parole supervision are prohibited from voting, disproportionately harming Black Louisianans.
The amicus brief provides historical context for the racial discrimination inherent in felony disfranchisement laws, including Louisiana’s, and explains the present-day impact of such laws, on the Black community in Louisiana, particularly.
“After the Civil War, Louisiana and other states passed felony disenfranchisement laws, alongside voter qualifications that are now illegal like literacy tests, poll taxes, and lengthy residency requirements, with an intent to exclude Black and other people from the political process,” said Leah Aden, senior counsel at LDF. “The successor felony disenfranchisement laws that legislatures in Louisiana and elsewhere adopted, continue—whether in design or effect—to have a disproportionate impact on Black Louisianans’ ability to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”
“Felony disenfranchisement laws prevent the very people who are likely be the most
knowledgeable about injustices in the criminal justice system from voting for representatives of their choice who have the power to fix those injustices,” added Ajmel Quereshi, senior counsel at LDF. “To deny people with felony convictions of the fundamental right to vote is at odds with ample evidence showing that the expansion of voting rights not only leads to safer communities, but has widespread public support.”
“Nationally, six million Americans are barred from voting due to a current or past felony conviction,” stated Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project. As is true in Louisiana, the vast majority of these people are living in the community, yet are still treated as ‘second class citizens’ due to the denial of this fundamental right of citizenship.”