Patterico's Pontifications

1/6/2010

9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Crime,Law — DRJ @ 1:31 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A 3-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out a Washington State law that prevents felons from voting because of civil rights concerns:

“Under the Washington law at issue, citizens convicted of a felony lose the right to vote until they are released from custody and off of Department of Corrections supervision. The 2-1 ruling by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel puts those restrictions in doubt, the majority reviewing the voting rights lawsuit found that the state restrictions unfairly penalize minorities.

Attorneys for six Washington state prisoners, Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote, “have demonstrated that police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways.”

Joined by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the majority opinion, Tashima found no “race neutral” explanation for the higher incarceration rates and reversed a U.S. District Court decision in favor of the felons.”

Later tonight or tomorrow, Patterico plans to add his thoughts here or post separately on this topic.

H/T Eric Blair.

— DRJ

91 Responses to “9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote”

  1. “9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote”

    The description in your blockquote makes me think that this was case about equal protection. Which means that it’s not quite right that the court ruled that ‘federal prisoners are entitled to vote.’ It’s that taking away the vote can’t be done in a way that violates equal protection. That’s quite a difference.

    imdw (543362)

  2. Maybe so — that description is from the headline of the linked article and it could be legally inaccurate. I’ll let Patterico expand on it when he has time.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  3. imdw, you are an idiot.

    nk (df76d4)

  4. A nasty idiot.

    nk (df76d4)

  5. A mindless idiot.

    nk (df76d4)

  6. Well, the good news is that it is the 9th circuit. It is said that the 9th circuit is presumptively wrong in the eyes of the USSC.

    But i guess if any democrats were vulnerable in WA state, they will be breathing easier tonight.

    Btw, exit question here. doesn’t this mean by the same logic the entire prison system of washington state is apparently unconstitutional. i mean if the court process is apparently so corrupted by racism we can’t trust their determinating in regards to the right to vote, well, what about the right to freedom generally?

    But don’t hold your breath waiting for the courts to do something like opening the prisons. because in truth they know that the vast majority of the people in prison are crooks. so what this really is, is just electioneering, trying to throw democrats a rope to survive the 2010 tsunami.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  7. An illiterate idiot.

    nk (df76d4)

  8. Yes I can envision the Iowa Caucus now – gathered at the VFW 142 are the classic farmer, the caring gentle quilting grandma, the young teacher, and maddog from cell bock E

    EricPWJohnson (9cac91)

  9. Yes I can envision the Iowa Caucus now – gathered at the VFW 142 are the classic farmer, the caring gentle quilting grandma, the young teacher, and maddog from cell bock E

    EricPWJohnson (9cac91)

  10. It was going to happen sooner or later. We cannot have laws that find blacks guilty of 90% of the rapes and murders when they are only 13% of the population. There has to be something wrong with laws like that.

    nk (df76d4)

  11. Some minorities commit more crimes. This explains it all. It’s sad and I hope someone can find a way to fix it, but it’s the damn truth.

    And when some minorities get worse sentences, that often is because of the details of the crimes being worse in minority cases. It’s a racist world meeting a race neutral system leading to results that affect each race the same but lead to different incarceration rates.

    And the 9th circuit already knows this. This is pure politics.

    There is an answer. Impeach these fools when the GOP takes the house. Make this a political issue for the Senate to decide. Let the democrats say this is OK. Reinhardt doesn’t belong on the bench, he belongs next to defendants, either in court or in jail. This is a tremendous injustice. Giving people votes they don’t deserve is identical to stealing votes from good people. Reinhardt and pals know they are simply canceling the votes of law abiding conservatives, and that’s simply beyond the BS I can accept.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  12. What an outrageously stupid decision, not merely for its particular holding but for the breadth of the idiotic reasoning. This kind of logic undermines the entire criminal justice system.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. A.W., I would say no.

    It turns out that demonstrating discriminatory intent is really, really difficult except in the rare case where someone stands up and proclaims to the world that they’re intending to discriminate against the particular disfavored minority. It’s next to impossible to get a particular conviction overturned on the grounds that the entire system is intended to be discriminatory.

    But it’s possible that the voting rights act creates a lower statutory standard – that is, it’s possible that the voting rights act says that you don’t have to demonstrate intent in order to demonstrate that a denial of voting rights violates equal protection.

    I haven’t read either the statute or the case, so I can’t say with any authority what the court’s reasoning was. But I can say that saying that “denying felons the right to vote violates equal protection because the legal system is impermissibly biased” means that you are also saying that “convictions violate due process because the legal system is impermissibly biased.” As long as different standards apply for what is permissible – a presumption which seems likely to me – the statements aren’t equivalent.

    That said, it’s a public relations disaster for the court system to be saying the court system is impermissible biased.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  14. So they get their guns back too? Why not. If you can’t penalize felons and take away their voting rights, then everything is open season.

    Democrat stooge judges running wild, trying to fetch more Democrat voters.

    bill-tb (541ea9)

  15. “… (P)olice practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways.”

    What we need to do is go roust some white folk.

    Alta Bob (5daf3f)

  16. OT – Typo from LAT online front page

    “Gilbert Arenas indefinitely over gun possession”

    lee (cae7a3)

  17. [scanning the opinion now]: well, it appears that at least one Supreme Court Justice agrees with them: Justice Sotomayor, when on the Circuit Court, joined dissents which made the same argument this decision makes.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  18. EricPWJohnson, the gist of the indictment is this:

    African Americans in Washington State were over nine times more likely to be in prison than Whites, even though the ratio of Black to White arrest for violent offenses was only 3.72:1, suggesting that substantially more than one half of Washington State’s racial disproportionality in its criminal justice system cannot be explained by higher levels of criminal
    involvement as measured by violent crime arrest statistics
    .

    I’m unconvinced that this is a constitutional problem unless someone can demonstrate that it’s an intentional result, but it’s certainly a problem.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  19. well i glanced over it. the basic idea is this. because they focus on 1) crack, 2) outdoor crimes and 3) inner city crimes that this is where the bias comes from. in my quick survey they don’t seem to indict the system itself.

    So i guess we need to set the inner city crackheads free. clearly they are the victim of racism.

    Of course, i always pose this awkward question when people claim our justice system singles out black criminals: is this racism, or affirmative action? I mean, take my snide hypothetical. Would it be a good thing for the black community if we suddenly released all the crackheads? Or would it be a disaster? i would tend toward the latter. the good people in those communities would be plagued with these criminals making it even harder to raise their children right.

    this is just the usual liberal claptrap inserting their policy preferences. every other circuit court came out the other way.

    For instance, they say there is no rational reason to focus on crimes committed outdoors. but there is. its called the broken windows theory of law enforcement–the idea that open lawlessness leads to an environment of even greater lawlessness. How do they not know of that? it was only made famous by Rudy Guiliani.

    And they said the focus on crack was irrational. But again, bullsh– on that. crack is a cheap drug, thus it preys particularly on the poorest among us, miring them in blight. it threatens the very upward mobility that has made america special. And the same can be said about the logic of focusing on inner city crime, and also that there is a unique need to control criminals when they are close together, because there is an increased danger of organization, and of gang violence. in other words, its harder to have a mafia when everyone is 20 miles apart, and its similarly harder to have a gang war in rural areas, although obviously it has been known to happen.

    No, this is a nakedly political decision i expect to be overturned swiftly, but only after the 2010 elections.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  20. RE: #14, above: apparently i’m right in my suspicion — the court is saying that the voting rights act does not require proof of discriminatory intent, just of discriminatory effect.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  21. I would support a constitutional amendment. When you’re a criminal you’re sort of in a time-out as far as voting for your dirty socialist Chicago street trash what have the ruinous and impoverishing economic politics thank you. Parolees too. Some felons even forever and ever after. It’s nothing personal I just don’t value your input.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  22. AW: I’m not convinced the court can be faulted for that. The plaintiffs produced expert reports alleging discriminatory effect. The State of Washington did not dispute the discriminatory effect.

    It seems to me that a big part of the responsibility for this decision lands in the hands of the Washington State AG.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  23. It’s important to remember that lots of felonies shouldn’t be felonies. Justice is gay.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  24. We cannot have laws that find blacks guilty of 90% of the rapes and murders when they are only 13% of the population

    It’s even worse when you factor in that young black males are 6.5% of the cohort committing all da crime.

    The good news is they mostly kill and rape each other… ;-]

    ROBERT RUDZKI (7cca33)

  25. Just when you thought the Ninth might take a break from issuing stupid decisions…..

    I assume the SC has already scheduled arguments as another chance to smack down the Ninth.

    MU789 (514c52)

  26. “It’s important to remember that lots of felonies shouldn’t be felonies. Justice is gay.

    Comment by happyfeet”

    I thought that was mainly a federal criminal law problem, but you’re probably right anyway.

    Aphrael, that’s a shame. It’s hard to take every hairbrained complaint seriously, but that’s what the state appellate folks are paid to do. Still, this is a ridiculous result. this is part of a felony conviction. Either the conviction is unsound or the penalty of losing your vote remains. This giving democrats votes but keeping criminals behind bars is a silly result.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  27. Since this case has already gone to the 9th circuit once and has been in process for fourteen years, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “harebrained complaint”. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  28. aphrael,

    I agree with you – but I think you were addressing NK – me – i made yet another badabump funny that wasnt funny – again

    EricPWJohnson (9cac91)

  29. mu789

    that is assuming that they won’t vacate it without comment.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  30. Rudzki, I hardly think that that is “good news”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  31. aphrael, I grant what you’re saying. I think it’s ridiculous to say these people should be allowed to vote while their convictions stand, but you’re right that the AG should have responded in some way to this.

    What I was saying is that it’s unfair to require the AG to respond to everything that comes down the pike. Which is what happens if someone makes a stupid complaint, adds some evidence (an expert I am paying agrees with my complaint!) and then saying that because the AG didn’t reply, the case must find in the hairbrain’s favor.

    And yeah, this is hairbrained, even though the AG should have replied. People have been saying that Bush planned 9/11, but it’s not less hairbrained just because he hasn’t replied directly for several years to this charge. If there is a reason to overturn a conviction, that’s one thing. If these crimes shouldn’t be felonies, that’s another. If we’re saying that felons should be allowed to vote, even though we haven’t found a fault with their conviction, that’s really quite wrong.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  32. “Under the Washington law at issue, citizens convicted of a felony lose the right to vote until they are released from custody and off of Department of Corrections supervision”

    Do I understand this correctly? They are allowed to vote after release, just not while in prison?

    Bored Lawyer (c8f13b)

  33. AW wrote:

    But don’t hold your breath waiting for the courts to do something like opening the prisons. because in truth they know that the vast majority of the people in prison are crooks. so what this really is, is just electioneering, trying to throw democrats a rope to survive the 2010 tsunami.

    Don’t be too sure about that. If the court wrote that “police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices, and plea bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways” and Judge Tashima found no “race neutral” explanation for the higher incarceration rates,” what are we to conclude but that the Judge thinks that criminal arrests and prosecutions themselves must be racially suspect?

    Apparently the notion that some minorities are convicted and incarcerated in greater numbers than other groups because they commit crimes at greater rates than others never entered anyone’s head.

    The annoyed Dana (474dfc)

  34. Dustin: I think the argument is that we can’t demonstrate beyond doubt that any particular conviction was the result of bias, but we have good reason to think that the system as a whole is biased … and that the voting rights act says that if the system as a whole is biased, we can’t use its results to determine who can or can’t vote.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  35. Bored, I think some have to wait until the probation period is over. Not sure, and hope someone will explain.

    But a lot of convicted felons vote after their sentences are served. Happyfeet has a point that a lot of felonies shouldn’t be in this country, but felony means wicked outrage against society, and it’s ridiculous that someone convicted of such a crime would be allowed to have a say in our elections. I want rehabilitation along with a sense that you can never really pay the entire debt of the sort of crime that felonies ought to be limited to.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  36. “I’m unconvinced that this is a constitutional problem unless someone can demonstrate that it’s an intentional result, but it’s certainly a problem.”

    Those cops just disproportionately arrest white people. That’s all. But Dustin already answered this:

    “Some minorities commit more crimes. This explains it all.”

    and

    “And when some minorities get worse sentences, that often is because of the details of the crimes being worse in minority cases.”

    How can anyone find this explanation unsatisfying?

    imdw (cf562d)

  37. come on now NK: imdw is an idiot’s idiot.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  38. And President Obama wants to try the Guantanamo prisoners in our federal courts?

    The disgusted Dana (474dfc)

  39. come to think of it, maybe imdw is a judge in the 9th circus…..

    that would explain many things. %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  40. naw Dana, President Barney Fife wants to release the Guantanamo prisoners, but he’s afraid to do that outright, so he’s gonna use the legal system instead.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  41. Dana, it seems to me to be extremely difficult to argue that the problem is that minorities are convicted more often because they commit more crimes than whites do when the evidence shows things like:

    The Seattle Police Department (“SPD”) arrested African Americans and Latinos for drug possession at rates much higher than their proportion among users. Whites, on the other hand, were arrested for drug possession at rates much lower than their proportion among users.

    If this is true – and it’s not clear that it is, because I don’t know what the actual statistics underlying the claim are – but if it’s true, it’s pretty convincing evidence that the SPD is being motivated by something other than higher crime rates among minorities.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. I would still like someone to explain to me why it is not racism that 13% of the population goes to prison for 90% of the crimes.

    nk (df76d4)

  43. Long term, think about what this could do to rural districts with big prisons.

    I don’t have time to research properly, but here’s a quick thought.

    I found a federal prison in Terra Haute, Indiana with around 6,000 inmates. The state congressional district (#43 I think) has a population of around 200,000 total. Ballpark 75% are voting age (150,000) and turnout of 60% to get 90,000 real voters.

    The DNC could do get out the vote drives and swing a handful of districts, I’m sure.

    If I had time, I’d scour Dakotas and Western states and find a district where an inmate could probably win a primary. Yikes.

    carlitos (057200)

  44. @42 — nk, would you happen to know if that ratio has been consistent since before “the Great Society”?

    Pons Asinorum (b200bb)

  45. aphrael, that’s the argument.

    I don’t see how the circuit can tell a state who it must allow to vote on the basis of one side saying there is “good reason” to think there’s bias.

    The voting rights act shouldn’t apply here because it’s clearly not biased to say that felons of any color cannot vote. You don’t get more race neutral than that.

    Let’s take the structure the circuit is using: I am certain that some race doesn’t register to vote as often as other races. Thus, there’s good reason to say that the voter registration roles are biased against the race that doesn’t register. I am also certain that blacks over 67 are less likely to vote as often as whites over 65, since far fewer blacks live that long. Thus, there’s good reason that age is racially unfair.

    But saying that people only people alive and registered to vote may vote is not racist, even though the results are. Sure, more felons are black. But any tweak to the system MUST occur in the administration of justice. Better juries, better instructions, better appeals, overturning bad convictions, penalties, etc etc. You don’t just say ‘well, this system probably isn’t perfect’ and say that’s good enough to say it’s racist and violated voting rights law.

    Just because reality has race implications doesn’t mean we can change what it means to be a convicted felon.

    What we need is a system with an automatic habeus corpus appeal so that convicts can appeal their conviction. We need a burden of beyond reasonable doubt, and a jury. With such a system (Washington’s system), we know that felons are convicted fairly.

    No, that isn’t perfect. Rich people have a better result than poor people, beautiful women with kids have a better result than hideous loner men. So what? We have a fair system that isn’t perfect. Every time these experts prove someone is in jail wrongly, that person should be released, but redefining the penalty for a felony for everyone, because of the banal fact that people aren’t perfect? That’s preposterous. IMO

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  46. We live in a republic. We honor the concept of democracy. When the people, via lawmakers, decided to have a death penalty for the worst criminals, we knew that our system of justice would only be the best we could make… it wouldn’t be perfect but we are going to keep doing the best we can. When we decided to put rapists in prison, we knew that this imperfect system would probably put an innocent person in jail at some point.

    It’s not that this is acceptable. The people have, via lawmakers, tried to give the defendant as fair a trial as possible in many ways I won’t labor you with. It’s not acceptable that an innocent person would go to jail. But, in building the best system we can, we opted for a death penalty.

    Just Reinhardt notes that our system is theoretically imperfect, and while its quite a challenge to prove that anyone innocent has been executed, this theoretical problem has caused him to overrule every single death penalty that crosses his desk.

    Reinhardt thinks he’s king, in other words. He knows the people enacted a law, and he doesn’t like that law, so he is canceling it.

    The voting rights act was put in place to prevent racially biased voting laws. Is “No felon may vote” biased? Of course not. The people did not intend a law that made any racially unrepresentative result illegal. They meant for all laws to be race neutral with relation to who can vote. Reinhardt and friends don’t like that law either, and so they are canceling it by giving it an absurd meaning.

    This is serious shit, because they are canceling legitimate voters. They are stealing our democracy away. It doesn’t matter how many improvements we make to our system of justice, it will always disadvantage some people… it will always be imperfect. It is race neutral, however, to say that felons may not vote. As long as more blacks are in our underclass, thanks to a variety of bad things, they will commit worse and more crimes, so the “good reason” posited to demonstrate racism falls on its face.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  47. 7, nk, it’s name is “imd-dummy”.

    PCD (45678b)

  48. DRJ…You need to correct the lede as this case was about STATE prisoners, not Federal.

    And Yes, until they have completed their parole/probation, they are still under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

    nk, if they’re committing 90% of the crime ATBE they would constitue 90% of those incarcerated.
    Now, some of this might be due to ineffective, or lack of, counsel, but that is something that your profession must address.
    I realize that you are a criminal defense atty, but even you must admit that there is a racial/ethnic disparity among those who lead a life of crime in today’s world, just as 80-100 years ago, prison populations were dominated by Jews, Irish, and Italians – at least those prisons that swept up the detritus from the urban centers along the East Coast.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  49. Our little country is on the Wrong Track I think and nobody has any good ideas about what to do. Mistakes have been made. This is clear. But nobody feels terribly empowered to fix them except for the dirty socialists and their little president man.

    It’s not a conundrum it just blows.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  50. BTW, will this Court now re-instate 4th Amendment rights to Probationers/Parolees? At least here in CA, and I assume in most States, if you’re on Parole or Probation, you must submit to a search at any time one is requested, with or without a warrarnt.

    And then, we get to Firearms!
    Of course, Reinhardt and his fellow clowns on the Left don’t want anyone to have firearms (except their private security guards, that is), so I guess that point is moot.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  51. Since none of you has the guts to say it, I will: Laws against rape and murder are intended for no other purpose than to put the black man down and keep him down.

    nk (df76d4)

  52. Wow. Democrats must be getting really desperate.

    Jules (4e52c7)

  53. If that’s not satire, you have just diminished yourself in my estimation.
    Now, if you want to talk about gun-control laws, you’re absolutely correct, in that their genesis is in an attempt to deny minorities empowerment, both in the Reconstruction South, in urban East-Coast centers, and in Post-WW-1 Great Britain (well, it was a class thing, didn’t want the great unwashed rising up in a Bolshie revolution).

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  54. …and nk, I seem to recall something or other to the effect that man must not murder, or covet his neighbor’s wife, etc.
    I didn’t know that there was a significant contingent of Blacks, which would have presented a threat of any kind, travelling with Moses?

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  55. 9th Circus, home for mentally ill judges. What do you expect? Does anyone have a reason to respect any judge these days? I can’t think of one.

    Scrapiron (996c34)

  56. I vote satire.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  57. Can this decision have an impact? This is Washington state, where the 2004 election for governor, after 3 recounts, went to the Democrat Gregoire by about 129 votes out of around 2.8 million votes cast.

    Huey (b957d9)

  58. […] original here: 9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote […]

    9th Circuit Rules Federal Prisoners Entitled to Vote | Liberal Whoppers (d16888)

  59. Comment by Huey — 1/6/2010 @ 4:11 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they show conclusively that there were more than that number of votes cast by felons,
    who were proscribed from voting under then current rules, and that they were all registered as Dems?

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  60. As a conservative, I ask myself: self…would you have a problem with this ruling if the convicted felons voted overwhelmingly for Republican or Independent candidates?

    The answer is yes, I would.

    No problem with convicted felons voting IF they have met the terms of the punishment meted out to them and are no longer under state/federal supervision.

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  61. AD… it has been a long time and I am foggy on the details. I do remember that the Republican Rossi won the first count and the second count. then King county (liberal Seattle) kept finding ballots here and there that they claim were not counted.

    This whole thing eventually went to trial. All I remember about the trial is the Republicans lost and the male judge wore an earring.

    Huey (b957d9)

  62. AD – why would this decision mean that parolees get 4th amendment rights?

    As far as I can tell, this isn’t a constitutional interpretation issue at all. It’s an interpretation of what Congress meant when it passed the Voting Rights Act.

    Dustin: the Voting Rights Act says “No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color”.

    If a state adopts a prerequisite for voting which says “no person who has been found guilty of a crime shall vote”, but the process of finding someone guilty of a crime discriminates based on race, it seems to follow that that prerequisite for voting is being applied in a manner which results in a denial of the right to vote on account of race.

    You can argue that of course Congress didn’t mean the rule to apply to felony convictions, but Congress doesn’t appear to have said that.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  63. This is stupid. If more blacks commit crimes, then more blacks will be in prison. Too dare bad.
    Just because more blacks are in prison doesn’t mean we have to treat blacks special.
    Although this is the first. Now the Chicago cops will dumb down their entrance tests to allow more blacks to become cops. How about we hire the best people for the job, regardless of color?
    And how about NO prison gets to vote, regardless of color?

    Dee (8fc0ce)

  64. I don’t know that it’s satire, it seems to be the Constitution on the left coast. If a law puts too many people of a certain color in prison, there’s got to be something wrong with that law. It’s a kind of genocide really. After all, what’s all that bad about rape and murder?

    nk (df76d4)

  65. Aphrael wrote:

    The Seattle Police Department (“SPD”) arrested African Americans and Latinos for drug possession at rates much higher than their proportion among users. Whites, on the other hand, were arrested for drug possession at rates much lower than their proportion among users.

    If this is true – and it’s not clear that it is, because I don’t know what the actual statistics underlying the claim are – but if it’s true, it’s pretty convincing evidence that the SPD is being motivated by something other than higher crime rates among minorities.

    It’s really pretty simple: minorities, especially blacks and Hispanics, are more likely to live in more congested, higher crime areas; the police are simply in their neighborhoods more often, because that is where so much other crime occurs.

    The intuitive Dana (474dfc)

  66. Since none of you has the guts to say it, I will: Laws against rape and murder are intended for no other purpose than to put the black man down and keep him down.

    Comment by nk

    I assume this is satire so I suppose your other comments were, as well. What nobody has mentioned is that the original severe treatment of crack vs powder cocaine was pressed by the Congressional Black Caucus. Crack was devastating the black community and so they wanted to make the penalty harsher, especially as Maxine Waters and others were convinced the CIA was doing it.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  67. If more blacks commit crimes, then more blacks will be in prison

    I believe the argument is that the ratio of blacks in prison to whites in prison is significantly different than the ratio of blacks who commit crimes to whites who commit crimes.

    I’m not saying I agree with the decision – there are parts of it which bother me – but much of the rhetoric here seems to be missing the point.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  68. If American trials are not the best way to determine who commits crimes, as opposed to polls with an agenda, what’s a better way, aphrael?

    nk (df76d4)

  69. I do not understand the analysis applied by the court. The act’s provision: “No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting […] shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color” speaks to the reason for the denial – which is in this case because of being a felon, not because of being of particular ethnic descent.

    If there is a racial disparity issue, it should attach to the process of obtaining the conviction, not to the state requirements regarding treatment of convicted felon’s voting rights. This decision stinks of an exercise of bending logic to fit the desired outcome.

    JSinAZ (ae2d5e)

  70. NK: may I consider that to have been a troll? :)

    American trials are better than any of the other available alternatives.

    That’s not the same thing as saying that the system is sufficiently good to base voting rights on it under the rules Congress established.

    “better than the alternatives” can still not be “good enough”.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  71. Prosecutorial discretion has not been ruled against in death penalty cases yet, so it’s not going to be applied in other criminal cases, either. Those two guys on the 9th Circus should not be judges.

    nk (df76d4)

  72. *Prosecutorial discretion* “Selective enforcement”, if you wish.

    nk (df76d4)

  73. I didn’t know that there was a significant contingent of Blacks, which would have presented a threat of any kind, travelling with Moses?

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 1/6/2010 @ 3:53 pm

    Well, there was the man himself, does that count?

    carlitos (057200)

  74. It is interesting that the Voting Rights Act is, what, 40+ years old, and the dis-enfranchisement of felons goes back much, much longer; yet, I’m comfortable in believing that there was no effort when Congress was drafting this Act, to address this issue…it is a dead letter.
    If there was, bring out the testimony in the Congressional Record for all to see.
    This is just Reinhardt being Reinhardt; and he’ll be overturned once again (at least 6-3, maybe 7-2).

    aphrael…my point about the 4th is that you can’t be intellectually consistent and give felons the right to vote (especially while incarcerated), and not restore their 4th Amendment rights and others after release.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  75. Comment by carlitos — 1/6/2010 @ 5:22 pm

    Heh!

    Yes, and the music was written by Beethoven, who everyone knew was Black also.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  76. NK, @72/73: sure. this decision does not say anything which would change the rules for the criminal justice system.

    what it says is that those rules – where intent matters and there is no ‘discrimination’ without discriminatory intent – aren’t sufficient when the standard doesn’t care about intent.

    the criminal rules are ok under the constitution because, even if there is a discriminatory effect, there’s no intent.

    but the VRA doesn’t care about intent.

    ————-

    AD – of course you can be intellectually consistent.

    Here you go: the constitution does not require that felons be allowed to vote, or that felons on parole maintain their fourth amendment rights. Congress has chosen to pass a law which, interpreted literally, means that felons must be allowed to vote in federal elections if the criminal justice system in their state has a discriminatory effect; it has not chosen to pass a law which changes the parole rules.

    This is an entirely internally consistent statement.

    None of this is to say that the outcome is good.

    ———

    As an aside, I’m not sure that I would depend on this being overturned: given that Washington didn’t contest the argument that there is a discriminatory effect, does anyone really want to lay odds on whether the AG of Washington appeals the decision?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  77. Is this decision in conflict with any decision by another Circuit?

    I think they have to appeal for the reasons outlined above re the disparate effect on elections in small rural communities. There will be a tremendous amount of political pressure brought to bear by Mayors and County Commissioners throughout the state where correctional facilities are located.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b6fff3)

  78. Reinhardt is a well-known judicial clown who has been overturned many times and who is married to Ramona Ripston, executive director of ACLU in SoCal.

    Isn’t that three strikes?

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  79. “We cannot have laws that find blacks guilty of 90% of the rapes and murders when they are only 13% of the population. There has to be something wrong with laws like that.”

    1. Make math a crime and jail the Chinese that do well. That’ll help the statistical imbalance.

    2. Jail random whites for the crime of “felony underachieving”

    3. Hispanics must be contributing more to the prison population than you are allowing… or maybe that is my California bias showing. Blacks are not the racial majority in prison here. Use the proper multiplier for hispanics and reduce your 90% down.

    4. Create a Federal office that counts “white felonies created” that uses the same data used to measure “jobs created”

    5. Make everything on the “you might be a redneck” list a felony

    SteveG (909b57)

  80. Don’t forget guns.
    There is really no safe way to sell drugs… much less sell drugs without a gun.
    First strike felon gets out of prison, needs a job and starts slinging… he needs a gun.
    White people are able to use guns recreationally… for former felons it is a tool. They should be able to write it off on their taxes

    SteveG (909b57)

  81. “If there is a racial disparity issue, it should attach to the process of obtaining the conviction, not to the state requirements regarding treatment of convicted felon’s voting rights”

    Why? The act doesn’t apply to convictions. Just to voting. As your quote shows.

    imdw (00bfab)

  82. “It’s important to remember that lots of felonies shouldn’t be felonies. Justice is gay.”

    Feets don’t fail me now.

    GeneralMalaise (68a574)

  83. “defelonization” only gets about 105 hits on that there google

    happyfeet (e9e587)

  84. The racial excuse is just the usual bogus posing. But there is another angle that does interest me, i.e.:

    Is there not a perverse incentive for the govt to criminalize normal behavior so as to deny the vote in the future to people who tend to vote, well, inconveniently?

    I mean, it’d be real, corrupt Chicago-style politics that could never happen in America, but the incentive is there, is it not?

    ras (88eebb)

  85. If it were really true that WA’s criminal justice system were so racially disciminatory, then the franchise — voting — would be the least of the consequences at stake. SET ALL WASHINGTON FELONS FREE! Or at least the black ones.

    Never mind those, y’know, JURY VERDICTS of guilt in each individual case, beyond a reasonable doubt, and such. Formalities!

    Mitch (e40959)

  86. I mean, it’d be real, corrupt Chicago-style politics that could never happen in America, but the incentive is there, is it not?

    Comment by ras — 1/6/2010 @ 7:47 pm

    Illinois does not disenfranchize felons who are not prisoners. Once they get out, they can vote. Nor prisoners who are not felons, such as misdemeanants or awaiting trial. There are polling booths in jails and lockups.

    nk (df76d4)

  87. Idiotic leftwing judges who try to sound so goody-goody and sophisticated about race and criminality remind me of all the teachers employed by urban public-school districts throughout America who strongly defend the value of publicly supported classrooms, but who send their own precious children to private or parochial schools.

    The phoniness and disingenuity of limousine liberals (hi, judges of the 9th Circuit Court!) never ceases to amaze and sicken.

    Mark (411533)

  88. As an aside, I’m not sure that I would depend on this being overturned: given that Washington didn’t contest the argument that there is a discriminatory effect, does anyone really want to lay odds on whether the AG of Washington appeals the decision?

    Comment by aphrael

    Another smart point you’ve brought up. We’ll see.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

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