Law \ Legal

Court Upholds Jim Crow-era Voting Restrictions in Mississippi

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The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Mississippi can continue to bar more than 10 percent of its citizens from voting, maintaining a Jim Crow-era provision that bars Mississippians convicted of felonies from taking part in elections, reports the Daily Journal. Framers of Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution said the law was designed to prevent Black citizens from voting by targeting crimes they were believed to commit.

While most of the judges agreed that the legislature had racial animus toward Black citizens when it created a Constitution in 1890, they argued state lawmakers eventually removed racial bias from the provision when they removed burglary from the list of felonies in 1950 and added rape and murder to the list in 1968. Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution, which still governs the state’s laws, strips voting rights from people convicted of any of a list 10 felonies, including forgery and bigamy. The Mississippi Attorney General issued an opinion in 2009 that expanded the list to 22 crimes, including timber larceny, carjacking and felony-level bad check writing. Mississippi denies suffrage rights to a higher percentage of its residents than any other state in the country.

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